At least one child died with 17 others requiring liver transplants as a mysterious strain of hepatitis affects multiple countries.
A child has died from a new form of acute hepatitis after reports of a mysterious strain have emerged around the world.
the World Health Organization (WHO) He said there were at least 169 reported cases among children in 12 countries on Saturday.
The UK had the most infections with 114 cases. Spain reported 13 cases, with Israel and the United States reporting 12 and nine respectively. Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands, Italy, Norway, France, Romania and Belgium have also had cases.
The WHO reported that all reported cases have occurred in children under one month of age and up to 16 years of age. Seventeen of the infected children had to undergo a liver transplant.
A spokesperson for the Department of Health told news.com.au that while there hasn’t been an increase in cases of hospitalized children with unexplained acute hepatitis in Australia, they are closely monitoring the situation.
“Doctors are alerted to the problem and given advice through state and territorial networks,” the department spokesman said.
The cause and origin of acute hepatitis are still unknown. Confusing healthcare workers further, none of the common hepatitis A, B, C, D or E viruses were detected in any of the cases, suggesting an entirely new strain.
The United Nations body has reported many of the cases presented with symptoms including abdominal pain, discoloration of urine and stools, diarrhea, vomiting and jaundice. Many of the children also had increased levels of liver enzymes, which caused severe liver inflammation
While scientists are still not sure what is causing the virus, many theorize that an adenovirus may be behind the infections. Adenovirus is a very common virus that causes common health problems such as the common cold, croup, and pinkeye. Usually, most adenovirus infections tend to be mild.
WHO reported that adenovirus had been detected in at least 74 cases. Covid has also been detected in 20 cases, of which 19 with adenovirus and Covid together.
Adenoviruses have been reported to have caused hepatitis in immunocompromised children in the past, but never before in healthy children.
Public Health Scotland director Jim McMenamin told Reuters work was underway to determine whether the severe hepatitis was the result of a mutated adenovirus, or even two viruses working “in tandem”.
Nottingham Trent University molecular epidemiologist Conor Meehan said it’s possible that hepatitis could result from an interaction between adenoviruses and coronaviruses infecting the same child.
“Alternatively, it could be caused by a completely different virus that hasn’t been detected yet,” he said.
Scientists ruled out any connection between acute hepatitis and the Covid vaccine, stating that most of the infected children in the UK have not been vaccinated.
Although adenovirus is a hypothesis of the cause of mysterious hepatitis, WHO warns that it has not previously been linked to such clinical presentations.
If adenovirus is found to be the root cause, Dr. Meehan suggests there may be preventative measures that parents and children can take.
“Adenoviruses spread through the air and through touch,” he said.
“The main preventive measure is proper hand washing, by children and adults, along with good respiratory hygiene, such as cough in the elbow.”
WHO recommends visiting a health care practitioner if children show symptoms.
Originally published as Dead child, 17 liver transplants after mysterious hepatitis outbreak