Currently, there are around 200 children in many countries around the world, most of them in Europe, with severe hepatitis of unknown cause, resulting in at least 17 children needing a liver transplant and 1 child dying.
The UK is the most affected country, with 114 cases recorded as of April 27. Cases of severe hepatitis of unknown cause have also been confirmed in the US, Canada, Israel, and Japan. Copy. Copy.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the current outbreak has resulted in at least 17 liver transplants in patients under the age of 16 and one death.
The director of the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), Dr. Andrea Ammon, said on April 26 during a press conference in Stockholm, Sweden: “Research is being done in all fields. The country reports cases, but at this time the exact cause of this hepatitis is unknown.”
Ms Ammon added that there is currently no link between the incidents, nor is there any connection to travel. In general, children rarely get hepatitis.
The ECDC refused to confirm to Euronews that the boy died of viral hepatitis of unknown cause, saying the information was classified. The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said the UK has not recorded any cases of death in children due to hepatitis.
Is the culprit the Adenovirus?
According to the WHO, as of April 21, the entire country registered nearly 200 cases of severe hepatitis of unknown cause, mainly in the United Kingdom, the United States, Spain, Italy, Israel… Most of the patients are children. in the United Kingdom. old age. from 1 month to 16 years; At least 17 children have received liver transplants.
While the specific cause of severe hepatitis in children has yet to be determined, Ammon says adenovirus, a common virus that often causes gastrointestinal or flu-like symptoms, could be to blame. “Investigations are progressing in a direction related to adenovirus infection,” she said.
Viral hepatitis is usually the result of another episode of hepatitis A, B, C, D, or E viruses, but signs of these viruses are not present in any severe case of hepatitis. kids. children in the world.
Asked if the rise in hepatitis cases in children was simply the result of increased surveillance, Ms Ammon said it was unlikely that such infections had gone undetected. attention. idea. in the past.
“It is difficult to determine the initial number [of cases] because the adenovirus is not checked regularly,” she told reporters. However, due to its serious and unusual nature, I think it has been noticed before.”
Ammon declined to conclude that decreased immunity caused by two years of social distancing to combat COVID-19 could be a factor in the hepatitis outbreak in children. “That could be a factor, but I can’t confirm or deny that as it’s still under investigation,” she said.