In Europe, the alarm for acute hepatitis is spreading of unknown origin, which affect children under 10 years, in some cases with forms so severe as to cause organ failure. After those in Scotland, England and Spain, new cases have been reported in Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands and the USA. The European Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Ecdc) has been updated, reiterating its call to “report and share information”. While investigations continue to shed light on the causes, no case is currently reported in Italybut the level of attention rises.
The increase in cases of acute and severe inflammation of the liver of unknown origin among healthy children has been reported for the first time on 5 April in Scotland. The UK Health Security Agency then reported on 12 April that, in addition to those, there were additional cases under investigation in England, bringing to over 60 cases reported overseas. Most involved children between the ages of 2 and 5 and some had needed a liver transplant, which is very rare in this age group. The next day, 3 cases were reported in Spain. The latest reports come from Denmark, the Netherlands and Ireland, while in the United Kingdom cases have risen to 74 (49 in England, 13 in Scotland, 12 in Wales). But the alarm also extends beyond Europe, with 9 children affected in Alabama, United States. There is no official count but the cases seem to be about a hundred in total in just over two months.
At present, the exact cause remains unknown. An infectious origin is believed to be the most likely but cases are not related to known viral hepatitis, such as A, B, C, E. Among the hypotheses, there is that of a link with Covid-19 or with other forms of viral infections, such as adenovirus, given that both viruses have been found in some of the small patients. While no link to the Covid-19 vaccine has been identified. The investigations are ongoing and the ECDC is working together with the WHO to support the investigation.
Meanwhile, the level of attention in Italy is rising. The Regional Infectious Diseases Surveillance Service (Seresmi) of the Spallanzani Institute has sent all the structures of the Regional Health Service an update of the communications forwarded by the Ministry of Health on ECDC reports. “In our region – says the councilor for Health of the Lazio Region, Alessio D’Amato – so far no case has been reported, but in any case since Thursday of last week, with a circular from the Health Department, it was high level of attentionproviding all facilities in the network with the diagnostic algorithm recommended in the United Kingdom and requesting the reporting of cases of children with acute hepatitis, excluding diagnoses of hepatitis A to E. “The most common symptoms include yellowing of the skin and sclera of the eyes, pain in the upper right side of the abdomen, nausea and vomiting.