Health | Hepatitis in children: an unexplained phenomenon

More than 150 cases in ten countries, especially in Europe: acute hepatitis in children raises questions and even fears of a new epidemic, but the origin of these severe infections of the liver is still unknown.


It all started in the UK, which has the highest number of cases (now 114). Since then, cases have been reported in Spain (13), Denmark (6), Ireland (<5), the Netherlands (4), Italy (4), France (2), Norway (2), and in Romania (1 ), in Belgium (1), according to data from the World Health Organization (WHO). 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. Nobody has comorbidities. 17 kidney transplants were performed and 1 death.

Investigations are still ongoing in all countries that have reported cases. Currently, the exact cause of hepatitis is still unknownAccording to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

Currently, an infectious cause appears to be considered the most likely, but no common link with contaminated or toxic foods has been identified. ” Always take things seriously” And“Watch carefully”But “Don’t fall into psychosis either” Because “We don’t even know where it came from“Until then,” Yazdan Yazdanbana, head of the infectious diseases department at Bichat Hospital in Paris and a member of the French Scientific Council, said in a recent interview.

Why is it unusual

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 – quickly absorb or remain weak. In rare cases, it can lead to kidney failure.

Acute hepatitis was detected in sick children. “The increasing number of children with sudden hepatitis B is unusual and alarmingZania Stamataki, from the University of Birmingham’s Liver and Digestive Research Center, told Britain’s Science Media Center.

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.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization confirmed that the usual viruses that cause acute viral hepatitis (A to E) were not detected in any of the cases.

Adenovirus, a possible suspect but not confirmed

Among the avenues under consideration,glandular“At least 74 children were detected, including 18 of the aforementioned adenovirus”41 inch type. Several countries, including Ireland and the Netherlands, have reported an increased prevalence of these adenoviruses.

Very common and well-known viruses, adenoviruses generally cause respiratory symptoms (bronchitis, pharyngitis, etc.), eye symptoms (conjunctivitis), and digestive disorders (gastroenteritis).

Oral-oral or respiratory transmission occurs, with epidemic peaks often occurring in winter and spring, less often in communities (nurseries, schools, etc.). 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.

Questions about Covid

The possibility of an association with Covid-19, which is still circulating, was also included in the hypotheses.

Covid-19 was detected in 20 of the children tested. Another 19 children tested positive for COVID-19 and adenovirus. But “If these hepatitis were caused by Covid, it would be surprising not to see them distributed more widely given the strong spread of Sars-Cov2‘,” noted Graham Cook, an infectious disease specialist at Imperial College London, to the Science Media Centre.

After more than two years of epidemiological initiatives and barriers, the issue of “religion“The immune system that may make some children more fragile is being raised by some scientists without certainty.

Finally, a possible role for Covid vaccines has been ruled out: the vast majority of children have not been vaccinated, according to the World Health Organization.

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