Almost 200 cases of unexplained acute hepatitis in children

pharmafile | April 27, 2022 | News story | |   

Around 190 unexplained cases of severe hepatitis have been found in children around the world, as scientists urgently investigate what is causing the outbreak. Acute hepatitis, or inflammation of the liver, has been reported in children in a dozen countries around the world, and has now reached Asia, with a new case being reported in Japan.

Unusually, the new cases do not feature the viruses typically responsible for acute liver inflammation – namely hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control shared the news of the inflammatory condition. Britain currently has 111 registered cases, mainly in children under 10 years of age.

Severe hepatitis is rare in otherwise healthy children.

The health ministry of Japan shared that the patient had not received a liver transplant, and that the child had tested negative for adenovirus, a possible acute hepatitis cause currently being investigated worldwide. The child has also tested negative for COVID-19.

According to WHO, 17 children have needed live transplants as a result of the recent cases. On 23 April, WHO stated that at least one death had been reported in connection with the outbreak, though the organisation did not specify in which country the death had occurred.

Acute hepatitis has been identified in at least 12 countries worldwide.

Scientists are investigated whether the adenovirus involved has mutated, or is acting in tandem with another infection, such as COVID-19. They have shared that a toxin may also be responsible, though this is thought to be unlikely, due to the geographical spread of the cases reported.

As many as 40 cases have been recorded in the EU and European Economic Area. The US CDC also shared in a nationwide health alert that the first US cases were identified in October in Alabama.

Andrea Ammon, director at the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control in Stockholm shared that there were no connections found between the cases so far, and currently no association to travel. Ammon added that the disease had appeared in previously healthy children.

Ana Ovey

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