A phenomenon that spreads but is still unexplained

Outside of Europe, Israel (12 cases) and the United States (at least 9 cases) have expanded the list. The affected children ranged in age from 1 month to 16 years, but most were less than 10 years old, and many were less than 5 years old. None of them had co-morbidities, but 17 young men had to undergo kidney transplants. In the UK, one of them lost his life.

Evil unknown yet

Where does this hepatitis come from? “Investigations are underway in all countries that have reported cases. Currently, the exact cause of hepatitis is still unknown,” according to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control. Currently, an infectious cause appears to be considered the most likely, but no common link with contaminated or toxic foods has been identified.

Yazdan Yazdanpanah, Head of the Department of Infectious Diseases at Bichat Hospital City in Paris and a member of the French Scientific Council, stated.

unusual disease

Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver as a result of the interaction of viruses, toxins (drugs, toxins, etc.), autoimmune diseases or genetic diseases. Often of benign development, its main symptoms – fever, diarrhea, stomach pain, jaundice – go away quickly or remain weak. In rare cases, it can lead to kidney failure.

It is the proliferation of causes that challenges the specialists. Zania Stamataki of the University of Birmingham’s Liver and Digestive Research Center: “The increasing number of children with sudden onset hepatitis is unusual and alarming.” The fact that certain types of hepatitis affect young children, aged 1-5 years, surprises specialists even more, as well as the need, in some cases, for transplantation. According to the World Health Organization, the usual viruses that cause acute viral hepatitis A (A to E) were not detected in any of the cases.

Adenovirus, a possible suspect but not confirmed

Among the indications under study, “adenoviruses” were detected in at least 74 children. Several countries, including Ireland and the Netherlands, have reported an increased prevalence of these adenoviruses. Common and somewhat well-known viruses, adenoviruses generally cause respiratory symptoms (bronchitis, pharyngitis, etc.), eye symptoms (conjunctivitis), and digestive disorders (gastroenteritis). Most people are infected before they reach the age of five.

But their role in occult hepatitis is unclear. If children infected with adenovirus had hepatitis in the past, they were immunocompromised children. The World Health Organization notes that adenovirus 41 is not known to cause hepatitis in healthy children. So a new strain of adenovirus could be involved, according to some British scientists. Or, infection and other environmental causes may exacerbate adenoiditis.

about the same topic

Hepatitis of unknown origin in children: signs to be aware of

Dozens of cases of an unknown form of hepatitis currently affect children in various countries. In England, more than 60 cases of children between the ages of 2 and 5 are being investigated. Some developed acute liver failure and necessitated transfer to specialized pediatric units.

Suspicion of Covid-19

The possibility of an association with Covid-19, which is still circulating, was also included in the hypotheses. It was detected in 20 of the children tested. Another 19 children tested positive for COVID-19 and adenovirus. But Graham Cook, an infectious disease specialist at Imperial College London, noted that “if these hepatitis were caused by Covid-19, it would be surprising not to see them spread more widely given the high prevalence of Cov2”.

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