Public health experts in the United States and the United Kingdom investigate a rash of acute hepatitis cases among children.
According to a news release issued by the World Health Organization on Friday and the US News, 74 cases of severe, acute hepatitis (liver inflammation) have been found among youngsters in the United Kingdom.
In a second statement released Friday, Alabama health officials stated that they had been examining similar occurrences of hepatitis in children in the state since November.
Hepatitis virus types A, B, C, D, and E have been ruled out as causes of liver illness in UK cases, according to WHO. Hepatitis A, B, and C are the most frequent causes of viral hepatitis in the United States.
According to the WHO, the virus that causes Covid-19, also known as adenovirus, was found in several cases.
On April 5, the World Health Organization (WHO) first discovered ten cases of the condition in previously healthy children aged 11 months to 5 years in central Scotland. As of April 8, additional investigations around the UK had uncovered 74 cases, including the original ten.
The condition was so severe in six of the youngsters in the UK that they required liver transplants, but no deaths had been reported as of April 11.
The Alabama Department of Public Health has also found nine children with hepatitis, ranging from one to six. All of the kids tested positive for adenovirus, and two of them required liver transplants. According to the agency, none of the children had any underlying medical issues.
According to the statement, “These children reported symptoms of gastrointestinal sickness and diverse degrees of liver impairment, including liver failure, to clinicians in various parts of Alabama. Later investigations discovered a possible link between this hepatitis and Adenovirus 41.”
Adenoviruses cause conjunctivitis and diarrhea and are a prevalent cause of cold-like symptoms. The virus has been linked to hepatitis in patients with impaired immune systems on a very uncommon basis.
“Adenovirus and/or SARS-CoV-2 may have a role in the pathogenesis of these cases,” WHO added. “However, other infectious and non-infectious variables must be completely studied to effectively assess and manage the risk.”
Only one of the cases in the United Kingdom had a proven close interaction with someone who had hepatitis. However, for the cases in Europe and the United States, no other epidemiological risk factors, such as recent overseas travel, have been discovered.
The WHO noted the UK cases, “Overall, the etiology of the current hepatitis cases is still deemed unclear and continues under active research.” Local health officials are doing additional testing to rule out any other illnesses, poisons, or toxins that could be contributing factors.
Hepatitis cases in children have been documented in limited numbers in other nations. There have been fewer than five confirmed or probable cases in Ireland and three confirmed cases in Spain. These cases are being looked into as well.
A representative for the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is also investigating the strange cases in Alabama, said the agency is communicating with health experts in Europe.
WHO warns that more cases are likely to be discovered before answers are found and appropriate control and preventative measures are implemented.
“Member States are strongly encouraged to identify, investigate, and report suspected situations that meet the case definition,” the statement stated. According to the Alabama Department of Public Health, “WHO does not recommend any restrictions on travel and/or trade with the United Kingdom, or any other country where cases are identified, based on the currently available information.” The CDC is also developing a national health advisory to look for similar cases of hepatitis with an unknown cause or associated with adenovirus in the rest of the country.