Home » More and more children with mysterious (and serious) hepatitis: WHO investigates

More and more children with mysterious (and serious) hepatitis: WHO investigates

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More and more children with mysterious (and serious) hepatitis: WHO investigates

Children who suddenly and without apparent motivation start to feel bad. More and more. Some end up in hospital in serious condition. Fear is growing over the rapid increase in cases of mysterious acute hepatitis in children. The first cases were reported in the United Kingdom and the ECDC, the European Center for Disease Control, had asked “to report any similar cases to determine if they are also occurring in other countries”. A few days later cases also in Spain. Fear is mounting and the World Health Organization (WHO) is also monitoring the phenomenon.

“Although some patients have tested positive for Sars-CoV-2 or adenovirus, it is necessary to undertake the genetic characterization of the viruses to determine any associations between cases”, specifies WHO Europe, which “strongly” recommends states to “identify , investigate and report potential cases “. For now, the organization “does not recommend any travel restrictions” in countries where these liver infections of unknown cause have been recorded: in addition to the United Kingdom, also Ireland and Spain.

The boom of cases

WHO – explains the agency’s European regional office – was informed on 5 April of 10 cases of severe acute hepatitis of unknown origin in children under 10 (11 months-5 years) in central Scotland. 74 cases were identified in the UK by 8 April, including 10 Scots. No fatal outcome, but transplantation was required for some. “The viruses of hepatitis a, b, c, e and d have been excluded after laboratory tests, while further investigations are underway to understand the etiology of these cases”, highlights the WHO in a note.

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“Given the increase in cases reported in the last month and the strengthening of screening activities, it is likely that more cases will be reported in the coming days,” the experts warn. “After the first signs in the United Kingdom – the WHO Europe still reconstructs – cases of acute hepatitis of unknown origin in children have also been recorded in Ireland, less than 5 (confirmed or possible). But 3 cases have also been reported in Spain confirmed in children aged 22 months to 13 years. Local authorities are currently investigating these cases. “

The epithet

Viral hepatitis are liver infections which, despite having similar clinical pictures, differ in origin of the disease, frequency and severity. To date, 5 types of viral hepatitis are known due to the so-called “major hepatitis viruses”: a, b, c, d, e. “However – states the Higher Institute of Health – in about 10-20% of cases the agent responsible for hepatitis remains unknown. In the last decade of the last century, other viruses potentially involved in these infectious processes have been isolated, such as the virus ‘F’, the ‘G’ virus which, although responsible for human infection, appears to be clearly associated with disease only in some cases, the ‘TT’ virus, frequently isolated in patients with various types of liver disease as well as in healthy subjects, and lately the ‘SEN’ virus, isolated in subjects with viral hepatitis. There are also other viruses, which in addition to the underlying disease can sometimes cause a picture of hepatitis of varying severity. These are called minor hepatitis viruses “.

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In Italy, thanks to the integrated epidemiological system of acute viral hepatitis, the epidemiological scenario is monitored. In particular, in the last 30 years there has been a progressive decline in the incidence of hepatitis A and, even more so, of hepatitis B, C and Delta. Instead, hepatitis E infection is taking shape as an emerging disease, for which there is an increase in the number of cases not linked to travel to endemic areas.

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