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The number of US deaths linked to unexplained cases of liver inflammation, or hepatitis, in children has risen to six over the past seven months, officials revealed. A reported 180 cases are being investigated across 36 states. All cases occurred in children under 10, but primarily affected younger children, with a median age of 2 years old.

Between 1,500 and 2,000 pediatric hepatitis cases are reported nationally each year, and officials said it was unclear whether the current cases are above what would typically be expected. However, researchers have expressed concern as a number of common causes have been ruled out, including hepatitis types A, B, C, D, and E (see overview). 

Doctors say one potential culprit is adenovirus 41, which typically causes stomach pain and diarrhea. Nearly half of the patients tested positive for the strain, though it has not previously been linked to hepatitis. More than 600 cases and 14 deaths have been reported worldwide.