According to the World Health Organization, there is a mysterious children’s hepatitis that has now spread to 11 countries worldwide. This mysterious strain of hepatitis has been identified in almost 170 children in these countries, with, to date, at least one death from the disease.
“It is not yet clear if there has been an increase in hepatitis cases, or an increase in awareness of hepatitis cases that occur at the expected rate but go undetected,” the WHO said in a recent release. “While adenovirus is a possible hypothesis, investigations are ongoing for the causative agent.”
In a People Magazine report, it was noted that the majority of cases of this mysterious illness were in the United Kingdom (114), followed by Spain (13), Israel (12), the United States (9) and Denmark (9). The Netherlands, Ireland, Italy, Norway, France, Belgium, and Romania have also reported less than 5 cases each.
The mysterious illness has affected children in a wide age range, from one month old to 16-years-old. However, the majority of cases have appeared in children under 10. All of the children have showed signs of severe hepatitis. Additional signs of infection have included: jaundice, diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In most cases, the children did not present with fever.
Maria Buti, a pathologist in Barcelona and chair of the European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL), said in an interview that the “main concern” is the strain’s severity. Ten percent of the known cases had to undergo a liver transplant.
Aikaterini Mougkou, anti-microbial resistance expert at the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), echoed her colleagues concern stating that the cases were “really worrying,” especially since the cause and transmission routes were unknown at this time. “As we do not know the cause, we do not know the transmission route and how to prevent and treat it,” Mougkou said.
One thing that researchers are sure of is that the illness doesn’t have any correlation to the COVID-19 vaccinations as many of the sick children did not receive the vaccination due to not being eligible because of age.
Travel has not yet been restricted to any country with reported cases.
The Center for Disease Control did issue a nationwide alert “to notify US clinicians who may encounter pediatric patients with hepatitis of unknown etiology to consider adenovirus testing and to elicit reporting of such cases to state public health authorities and to CDC.”
What can you do to protect your child as much as you can? Well, regular hand washing and hygiene, as we have been doing, to protect against COVID-19 are good preventative measures.