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Severe childhood hepatitis of unknown origin

Childhood hepatitis of unknown origin has been reported in several countries. Adenovirus is managed as a cause, but it is investigated

Severe childhood hepatitis of unknown origin

Last April 2022, the WHO published news about a severe childhood hepatitis of unknown origin etiology in UK and Northern Ireland.
The cases have not stopped increasing. Meanwhile, they are handled among the causes, the infectious, caused by an adenovirus as responsible for the condition.

Outbreak Overview

As of April 21, 2022, at least 169 cases of acute hepatitis of unknown origin have been reported in 11 countries, but new cases are reported every day, especially in European countries, according to the WHO.

Patients are between 1 month and 16 years old. Consequently about 10% have required liver transplantation; at least one death has been reported.

Most common clinical symptoms

Abdominal pain
Diarrhea and vomiting
Elevated levels of liver enzymes
Jaundice (yellowish color of the skin)
Afebrile (the vast majority of cases)

United Kingdom, where the majority of cases have been reported to date, has recently seen a significant increase in adenovirus infections in the community.

Currently, a European surveillance system has been established in collaboration with the WHO, for data collection and follow-up of cases. In addition, guidance derived from the UK Health Security Agency has been issued to affected countries to support a thorough investigation of suspected cases.

Covid 19 or vaccination behind these hepatitis?

Hypotheses related to side effects of COVID-19 vaccines are currently not supported, above all as the vast majority of affected children did not receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Exclusion of other infectious and noninfectious explanations is necessary to fully assess and manage the risk.

WHO is closely monitoring the situation and working with health authorities in the UK, other Member States and partners.

5 WHO advice to affected countries

1. The priority is to determine the cause of these cases.
2. Common prevention measures, such as: regular hand washing and respiratory hygiene.
3. Member States must identify, investigate and notify potential cases
4. The WHO recommends testing blood (with initial anecdotal experience that whole blood is more sensitive than serum), serum, urine, stool, and respiratory samples, as well as liver biopsy samples.
5. No restrictions on travel and/or trade with the UK or any other country where cases are identified are recommended, based on currently available information.

Source:UK Health Security Agency , WHO


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