Cases of childhood hepatitis of unknown origin are increasing worldwide. In just one month, hundreds of children have been affected by the disease, nine have died and 38 have had to receive a transplant. The health authorities take the subject very seriously. Where are we today?
614 a few days ago, 650 today… Cases or suspicions of acute childhood hepatitis are increasing worldwide. This inflammation of the liver, which affects children in particular, is of increasing concern to the scientific community, while avenues for reflection on its origin are being studied.
At a time when some accuse SARS-CoV 2, the virus responsible for Covid-19, or even an adenovirus, as being at the origin of the epidemic, the WHO is formal: “We must take this phenomenon seriously. “. Today, where is the spread of the epidemic and how dangerous is this virus?
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33 countries involved
Particularly alarmed by the expansion of cases of childhood hepatitis, the WHO has issued a special report to indicate what is known about the virus. “Between April 5 and May 26, 2022, 650 probable cases of acute hepatitis of unknown etiology in children were reported to WHO by 33 countries,” explains the international body. The speed with which the cases are multiplying is quite remarkable. In just over a month, the outbreak has spread phenomenally.
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Unfortunately, Europe is one of the hardest hit areas. “The majority of reported cases come from the European Region, 22 countries concerned with 222 cases for the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland”, continues the WHO. In France, “two possible cases have been reported and 4 are under investigation”, according to Public Health France.
Nine children who died
In addition to its massive spread, this epidemic of infantile hepatitis sometimes represents a serious danger for affected children. “Of the 650 probable cases, at least 38 children (6%) required a transplant and nine deaths were reported (1%)”, continues the WHO. Of all the cases, almost 75% concern children under the age of five.
Even today, it is difficult to establish the origin of these acute hepatitis. After some research, the health authorities were still able to rule out tracks and favor others. “Laboratory tests excluded hepatitis A and E viruses in these children. SARS-CoV-2 and/or adenovirus were detected in a number of cases,” assures the WHO.
The search intensifies
Faced with the gravity of the situation, the WHO and some of its partners have stepped up research into the disease. “Responses to clinical and public health incidents have been activated in the affected regions”, attests the world organization. Investigations have also been opened in a more targeted way and on a smaller scale. Objective: “to include a more detailed exposure history, toxicological tests and additional virological/microbiological tests”.
The subject is taken seriously by the WHO, which is “closely monitoring the situation and supporting international coordination in collaboration with Member States and partners”.