United Kingdom: WHO on alert following numerous cases of hepatitis of unknown origin in children

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The World Health Organization is monitoring cases of hepatitis in dozens of children in the UK. The origin of the disease, which has led to liver transplants for some, is still unknown.

On April 5, the UK had reported ten cases of severe hepatitis in Scotland. Ten days later, 74 cases are identified, mostly in children under the age of 10. A situation monitored by the WHO, she warned in a press release this Friday, April 15.

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Some cases have resulted in hospitalization at a service that specializes in liver disease. Six children were transplanted. No deaths have been recorded, but the pathology is crossing borders: a handful of cases have been reported in Ireland and three in Spain.

WHO is monitoring the situation very closely.

This hepatitis is manifested by symptoms such as jaundice, diarrhea, vomiting or abdominal pain. Hepatitis of known origin, ie viruses A and E, was not detected in these children. British health authorities are examining the hypothesis of another type of virus (“adenovirus”) and other causes such as Covid-19 or environmental factors.

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Meera Chand, from the UK Health Safety Agency (UKHSA), said in a statement that “normal hygiene practices” such as hand washing “help reduce many of the infections we are investigating” and urged parents and babysitters to look out for signs of to be alert to hepatitis, and “contact a doctor if you are concerned”.

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One origin has been ruled out: the vaccine against Covid-19. It has not been given to any data subject in the UK. “No other epidemiological risk factor has been identified to date, including recent international travel,” says the WHO, which is “closely monitoring the situation.”

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