UK: WHO investigates hepatitis of unknown origin in children

The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday it was “closely monitoring” the situation after dozens of children in the UK had cases of hepatitis, the origin of which has yet to be determined.

The UK initially reported 10 cases of severe hepatitis in Scotland on April 5, before reporting a total of 74 cases three days later, according to a statement from the WHO, which expects more reports in the coming days. This hepatitis mainly affects children under the age of 10 and presents with symptoms such as jaundice, diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal pain.

Some cases required transfer to a ward specializing in liver disease, and six children had to undergo transplants, the WHO said. Fewer than five confirmed or possible cases have also been reported in Ireland and three cases in Spain, she continues. No deaths were recorded.

The hypothesis of an adenovirus

As the usual hepatitis viruses (A to E) could not be detected in affected children, the British health authorities have recently indicated that they are examining the hypothesis of a virus type (adenovirus) as well as other possible causes such as Covid -19, other infections or environmental factors . However, they ruled out a link to the Covid vaccine, which has not been administered to any of the confirmed cases in the UK.

“Adenoviruses are transmitted from person to person, by touching contaminated surfaces and through the respiratory tract,” said the UK Health Safety Authority (UKHSA). In a statement, UKHSA’s Meera Chand stressed that “normal hygiene practices” such as hand washing “help reduce many infections” and urged parents and childcare providers to watch for signs of hepatitis and “contact a doctor if necessary”. affected”.

The WHO reassured on Friday, recalling that “no other epidemiological risk factor has been identified to date, particularly recent international travel” and recommending no travel restrictions with the UK and other countries where cases have been identified.

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