There are twelve countries in which cases of acute childhood hepatitis of unknown origin have been registered Given the growing number of cases, especially in Europe, the WHO is already on alert.
This article was translated from our Spanish edition.
A new disease is beginning to be talked about: it is an acute childhood hepatitis of unknown origin that has already been confirmed in twelve different countries with at least 169 cases in children between one month and 16 years of age. The first reports of the disease were in the United Kingdom on April 5.
According to a statement issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) on April 15: "The United Kingdom has recently reported a significant and unexpected increase in cases of severe acute hepatitis of unknown aetiology in young children." Since some of the sick children tested positive for Covid, it is suspected that there could be some relationship between the two diseases, but this has not been confirmed. The same statement explains that "although the potential role of adenovirus and/or SARS-CoV-2 in the pathogenesis of these cases is a hypothesis, other infectious and non-infectious factors need to be thoroughly investigated to properly assess and manage the risk." . Another hypothesis is that the disease is caused by complications from adenovirus infections, a family of pathogens that usually cause mild intestinal and/or respiratory conditions.
So far, cases of the disease have been reported in twelve different countries: the United Kingdom, Spain, Israel, the United States, Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands, Italy, Norway, France, Romania and Belgium. One of the patients died (in the United Kingdom) and 17 of them required a liver transplant.
What is hepatitis and how is it transmitted?
Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver caused by infection with a virus and can be acute (short-term) or chronic. There are several types of hepatitis (A, B, C, D, and E); types A, B and C are the most common.
Both hepatitis A and E are spread by eating contaminated food. Types B, C and D are transmitted by contact with infected blood and types B and D by other body fluids. So far none of the viruses that cause these versions of the disease have been detected in sick patients .
What are the symptoms of hepatitis?
Although there may be asymptomatic cases of hepatitis, when a person becomes ill they may have the following symptoms:
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Pain in the abdomen
- dark urine
- Clay-colored stools
- Joint pain
When the disease becomes complicated it can cause cirrhosis, liver failure and liver cancer and lead to death.