The mysterious surge in hepatitis cases in children that alarmed scientists just over a month ago has “deflated” following a careful analysis conducted by the CDC, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the States. United. Cases of liver inflammation with no apparent explanation recorded in multiple countries would not be on the rise compared to before the covid pandemic: in essence, there is no new emergencysimply a greater awareness of a phenomenon that has existed for some time, as anticipated by the World Health Organization.
Without known cause. The newly published results are part of an ongoing investigation into a group of cases of fulminant hepatitis in previously healthy children registered starting from October 2021 in 33 countries: 650 probable cases in total (data updated as of May 26, 2022) . Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver which can have various origins. It can depend on genetic factors, on exposure to toxic substances, alcohol and drugs or on a viral infection: there are the viruses of hepatitis A, B, C, D, E, against which you can be vaccinated. In the cases in question, however, no common logical explanation could be found.
Contagion from adenovirus? Among the most probable hypotheses was that of a possible infection by adenovirus, a family of very common pathogens in children that cause respiratory or gastrointestinal symptoms: a large number of patients were in fact positive for adenovirus of subtype 41, usually responsible for a mild but potentially dangerous flu in immunosuppressed children (to know more). A link to the pandemic had also been hypothesized: covid could, for example, have left children more vulnerable to new infections.
No surges. Since there have always been, even before covid, a small number of childhood hepatitis cases without a convincing explanation, the CDC experts have tried to understand if the reported situations have increased. According to the study, between October 2021 and March 2022 the number of emergency room visits or monthly hospital visits for suspected hepatitis in US children did not increase compared to the norm, measured on the year 2017. Fortunately, the number of pediatric liver transplants too. has remained virtually unchanged.
Scientists also studied data from a company that conducts laboratory testing for suspected adenovirus infections, Labcorp; In recent months, pediatric stool samples positive for adenoviruses 41 have not increased compared to the years preceding the pandemic.
Conflicting data. The result is a bit different from that reported by the United Kingdom, which instead observed a slight increase in hepatitis compared to before the covid. However, since this is a rare circumstance and we think about very small numbers, observing an actual growth of cases is complicated and the question will remain a matter of study.