Mysterious cases of hepatitis of unknown origin affect children and worry the WHO

Hepatitis of unknown origin that affects children worries the World Health Organization (WHO). This is monitoring cases of hepatitis in dozens of children in the United Kingdom, the origin of which remains to be determined, according to a press release published on April 15, 2022. A liver transplant was necessary in some British victims. Hepatitis is a disease that affects the liver, literally the term hepatitis means inflammation of the liver.

An unknown origin

On 5 April 2022, WHO was informed of 10 cases of severe acute hepatitis of unknown etiology in children under 10 years old, in central Scotland. By April 8, 74 cases had been identified in the UK. Hepatitis viruses (A, B, C, E and D where applicable) have been ruled out after laboratory testing while further investigations are ongoing to understand the etiology of these cases.

Symptoms

The clinical syndrome in identified cases is acute hepatitis with marked elevation of liver enzymes, often accompanied by jaundice, sometimes preceded by gastrointestinal symptoms, in children mainly under 10 years of age. Some cases required transfer to a ward specializing in liver disease and six children had to undergo a transplant, the WHO said. As of April 11, 2022, no deaths have been reported among these cases and one epidemiologically linked case has been detected.

Other affected countries

A total of cases have been confirmed in 5 countries: the United Kingdom, Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands and Spain. Nine suspected cases have also been identified in children aged 1 to 6 in Alabama in the United States, according to the European Center for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC).

The trail of adenoviruses

Since the usual hepatitis viruses (A to E) have not been detected in affected children, British health authorities have recently indicated that they are examining the possibility of a type of virus called adenovirus, as well as other possible causes such as the virus that causes Covid-19, other infections or environmental factors. Adenoviruses are a family of viruses that usually cause a series of mild illnesses such as colds (colds), vomiting or diarrhea.

The British authorities, on the other hand, have ruled out any link with the vaccine against Covid-19, which has not been administered to any of the confirmed cases in the United Kingdom. UK investigators consider an infectious cause to be the most likely due to the clinical and epidemiological characteristics of the cases. Unclear The WHO stressed that Covid-19 or adenovirus, which is experiencing an upsurge in the UK, had been detected “in several cases”, but their role in the development of the disease “is not yet clear”.

* Presse Santé strives to transmit medical knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE can the information given replace medical advice.

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