A Mysterious Liver Disease Is Affecting Children Around The World: Here Are The Symptoms

17 children, or approximately 10% of cases, required a liver transplant (representative)


A child has died and more than a dozen have had liver transplants following a mysterious outbreak of severe acute hepatitis that has affected children in the UK, US and 10 other countries, a said the World Health Organization.

Health authorities are trying to determine the source of the inflammatory liver disease affecting at least 169 children, aged 1 month to 16 years, as of April 21, the WHO said in a statement on Saturday. Typical causes of viral hepatitis were excluded.

The UN agency was notified on April 5 of 10 cases among previously healthy children in central Scotland with jaundice, diarrhoea, vomiting and abdominal pain. Three days later, 74 cases had been identified in the UK

As of April 21, the UK had 114 cases followed by 13 in Spain, 12 in Israel, nine in the US and another 21 spread across Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands, Italy, Norway, France, Romania and Belgium. Many were infected with a strain of adenovirus, a family of viruses that cause various illnesses, including the common cold.

“It is not yet clear whether there has been an increase in hepatitis cases, or an increase in awareness of hepatitis cases that are occurring at the expected rate but going undetected,” the official said. WHO. “While adenovirus is a possible hypothesis, investigations are ongoing for the causative agent.”

Seventeen children, or about 10% of cases, required liver transplants and at least one death has been reported, the Geneva-based agency said. With further research, it is “very likely that more cases will be detected before the cause can be confirmed and more specific control and prevention measures can be implemented,” he said.

Symptoms include inflammation of the liver, with markedly elevated liver enzymes, and jaundice, preceded by abdominal pain, diarrhea and vomiting. The common viruses that cause acute viral hepatitis – hepatitis A, B, C, D and E viruses – were not detected in any of the cases, the WHO said.

International travel or links to other countries have yet to reveal any clues either. Additional toxicological and microbiological testing is ongoing in affected countries, which have also initiated enhanced surveillance activities.

Adenovirus was detected in more than 40% of cases. Of the virus samples that underwent molecular testing, 18 were identified as type F 41, the WHO said. Nineteen cases were found to have co-infection with SARS-CoV-2 and adenovirus.

“Due to enhanced laboratory testing for adenovirus, this could represent the identification of an existing rare finding occurring at previously undetected levels that is now recognized due to increased testing,” said the agency.

More than 50 types of adenovirus can cause infections in humans, according to the WHO. Usually a cause of self-limiting transmissible infections, they most often cause respiratory disease. Depending on the type, they can also cause other illnesses such as gastroenteritis, conjunctivitis and bladder infection.

Adenovirus type 41, the strain implicated in the liver disease outbreak, typically causes diarrhea, vomiting and fever, often accompanied by respiratory symptoms. Although adenovirus is being investigated as a possible cause of the outbreak, it does not fully explain the severity of symptoms, the WHO said.

“Although there have been case reports of hepatitis in immunocompromised children with adenovirus infection, adenovirus type 41 is not known to cause hepatitis in otherwise children. healthy,” he said.

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