British officials last week reported 74 cases of hepatitis, or inflammation of the liver, in children since January. The viruses usually responsible for hepatitis were not present, however, and experts are examining other possible sources.
Cases of hepatitis have now been spotted in Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands and Spain, the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control said (ECDC), Tuesday, by press release. However, the number of people infected has not been specified.
In the United States, nine cases of infection have been detected in Alabama, in children aged 1 to 6 years. On the side of France, two suspected cases are under investigation, in Lyon.
Mild hepatitis is very common in children after different viral infections, but what we’re seeing right now is very differentsaid Graham Cooke, an infectious disease specialist at Imperial College London.
No deaths have been recorded in connection with this infection, which however required specialist care in British patients. Some even had to get a new liver.
The liver processes nutrients, filters the blood and fights infections. The infections caused symptoms like jaundice, diarrhea and abdominal pain. Hepatitis can be fatal if left untreated.
According to the current state of research,
laboratory investigations of the cases excluded viral hepatitis types A, B, C, D and E in all casessaid the ECDC.
While the exact cause of infections is not known, many suspect an adenovirus.
Only a few of the affected children have tested positive for coronavirus, but the World Health Organization (WHO) warns that genetic analysis of the virus is needed to identify possible links between the cases.
There are dozens of adenoviruses, several of which cause flu-like symptoms, fever, scratchy throat and conjunctivitis. US authorities have revealed that the nine children from Alabama have tested positive for an adenovirus. They are now exploring the possibility of a link with adenovirus 41 which usually causes abdominal inflammation.
Public health officials have ruled out any link to COVID-19 vaccines, since no infected children had been vaccinated.
L’WHO pointed out that although there is an upsurge of adenovirus in the UK, the possible role played by this virus in the onset of hepatitis is uncertain. The UN agency has testified to less than five possible cases in Ireland and three confirmed cases in Spain, in children aged 22 months to 13 years.
very probable that more cases will be detected in the coming days, given the explosion in the number of cases over the past month and the intensification of surveillance.