Health. What you need to know about hepatitis of unknown origin affecting children in Europe

What form of hepatitis has been detected in the UK?

The UK reported 10 cases of severe hepatitis in central Scotland to the WHO on April 5, before reporting a total of 74 cases three days later. Except that the usual hepatitis viruses (A to E) were not detected in affected patients after laboratory tests.

How many children were affected in total?

In addition to 74 cases identified in the UK as of April 8, fewer than five confirmed or possible cases have also been reported in Ireland and three cases in Spain. But “more cases are likely to be reported in the coming days,” the WHO warned on Friday.

This hepatitis of unknown origin mainly affects children under 10 years of age. Across the Channel, some cases have had to be transferred to a service specializing in liver disease and six children have had to undergo transplants.

What are the symptoms ?

According to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), the affected hepatitis is characterized by dark urine, pale and gray stools, itchy skin, yellowing of the eyes and skin, muscle and joint pain, high temperature, abnormal tiredness , loss of appetite or stomach pain.

What could its origin be?

The British health authority assumes that a “group of viruses called adenoviruses” could be the cause of the identified cases of acute hepatitis. Especially since “the UK has recently observed an increase in the activity of adenoviruses co-circulating with SARS-CoV-2 [le virus du Covid-19, NDLR] ‘ observes the WHO.

Adenoviruses are common viruses that usually cause mild illness. “Although they do not usually cause hepatitis, this is a known rare complication of the virus,” UKHSA said in a statement. But “other possible causes are also being actively investigated,” the agency said, “including coronavirus” and “other infections or environmental causes.”

However, a link to the Covid vaccine has been ruled out, which has not been administered to any of the confirmed cases in the UK.

How to avoid it?

UKHSA’s Meera Chand points out that “normal hygiene practices” such as hand washing “help reduce many of the infections we are investigating”. She urges parents and carers to look out for the signs of hepatitis and “contact a doctor if they’re concerned.”

For its part, the WHO is “closely monitoring the situation” and is not recommending any travel restrictions with the UK and other countries where cases have been identified.

Leave a Comment