Childhood hepatitis of unknown origin: WHO announces the death of a child

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A few weeks ago, cases of liver inflammation, of unknown origin, were detected in the United Kingdom. Several other cases have been detected in several European countries. The World Health Organization has recorded the first death.

The unexplained inflammations of the liver, observed in several of Europe, claimed its first victim. On Saturday April 23, the World Health Organization declared that at least one child had died after being affected by this hepatitis of unknown origin, without specifying which country was concerned. So far, the disease had not caused any casualties.

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Also according to the WHO, new cases of inflammation have been detected, especially in children under 10 years old. As of April 21, 12 countries – mostly European – have recorded at least one case. A total of 169 children were affected by this disease. 114 cases have been detected in the UK. Spain, Israel, the United States, Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands, Italy, Norway, Romania and Belgium have also detected cases. In France, “two cases of acute hepatitis whose etiology is still undetermined were reported by the Lyon University Hospital”, indicated Public Health France, Tuesday, April 19.

Ongoing investigations

Of the 169 children who were victims of these inflammations, 17 of them had to undergo a liver transplant. What push the European health authorities to look into the file: “It would be good for the member countries of the WHO to investigate”, worried Richard Pebody, who leads the team in charge of high-risk pathogens at the WHO / Europe. For the time being, the exact cause of these hepatitis remains unknown: “Investigations are continuing in all countries reporting cases. Currently, the exact cause of hepatitis remains unknown”, writes the European Center for Infectious Diseases (ECDC) , but British investigators “consider an infectious cause to be the most likely due to the clinical and epidemiological characteristics of the cases”.

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Of the UK cases, “many showed signs of jaundice”. “Some of the cases were reporting gastrointestinal symptoms, including abdominal pain, diarrhea and vomiting in the preceding weeks,” according to the ECDC.

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