BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Over the last few months, the Alabama Department of Public Health has been investigating several cases of hepatitis found in several young children.

Since November, nine children between the ages of 1 and 6 years old have been identified as positive for adenovirus and two have required liver transplants. According to the ADPH, the children — none of whom had any underlying health issues– were from different parts of the state and no link has been determined.

These children presented with symptoms of a gastrointestinal illness and varying degrees of liver injury including liver failure. Later analyses revealed a possible association of this hepatitis with Adenovirus 41.

Adenoviruses are common viruses that typically cause a mild, self-limiting flu-like or gastrointestinal illness. Rarely do these viruses cause an illness so severe that they need to be hospitalized and may die.

Adenoviruses are usually spread through:

  • Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
  • Coughing and sneezing
  • Touching an object or surface with adenoviruses on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands
  • Contact with stool, for example, during diaper changing

According to the ADPH, adenoviruses are frequently resistant to common disinfectants and can remain infectious for a long time.

The Centers for Disease Control is developing a national health advisory to look for similar cases with liver injury of “unknown etiology or associated with adenovirus infection in other states” and is discussing similar cases of hepatitis potentially associated with adenovirus with international colleagues.

As of Friday, the Alabama cases were the only ones found in America. In the United Kingdom, 74 cases are being investigated. In Spain, three similar cases are being examined while there are a few cases in Ireland.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.