Doctors study global hepatitis outbreak among children

Doctors study global hepatitis outbreak among children
Doctors study global hepatitis outbreak among children
26 April, 19:12In the worldPhoto: CDC
Every tenth of the sick has already been transplanted, one child has died.

Cases of acute hepatitis of unknown origin have been reported in children in 12 countries, according to the Daily Mail. The disease proceeds in an unusually severe form: 17 patients required a liver transplant, two more are now being prepared for transplantation, one child has died.

The first cases of the disease were detected in Scotland less than a month ago. Since then, more than ten cases have been recorded in Spain, Israel, and the United States. Children also fell ill in Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway and Romania. The most alarming situation is in the UK, where 114 children have been affected by "acute hepatitis of unknown origin".

Children from one month to 16 years old are sick, but the majority are under the age of 5 years. Diarrhea and nausea appear first, followed by yellowing of the skin and eyes. Other symptoms are dark urine, itchy skin, muscle pain, fever, lethargy, loss of appetite, and abdominal pain.

Doctors are trying to find the cause of the outbreak. Anticovid vaccine was suggested as a possible cause, but this version was dismissed as untenable, since none of the children who fell ill in the UK and the USA were vaccinated due to their too young age. None of the cases were caused by any of the five typical strains of the virus - hepatitis A, B, C, D and E. The official explanation is that the disease may be caused by adenovirus - a viral infection that causes a runny nose. Perhaps the adenovirus was just a concomitant infection that joined covid. Adenovirus was found in 75% of sick children, 16% had covid. Children who are simultaneously infected with corona and adenovirus may be at greater risk of contracting hepatitis. Another theory is an adenovirus that mutated and therefore became more dangerous than usual. The working hypotheses also include a new strain of SARS-CoV-2.

The disease may also have an indirect cause - covid lockdowns, due to which the immunity of children has weakened, making them more susceptible to viruses. Due to lockdown measures everywhere, children have been forced to skip the stage where they are usually exposed to various pathogens and develop natural immunity against them. Coming out of sterile conditions in kindergartens and schools, they were defenseless against adenovirus.

There are currently approximately 170 cases worldwide, but doctors believe this may be just the tip of the iceberg because some parents may not pay attention to symptoms until the onset of the acute phase or because some children have a milder illness. Scientists warn parents against panic: in 99% of cases, the liver is capable of regeneration, so the likelihood of a transplant or death due to hepatitis is small. However, if a child develops jaundice, he needs urgent medical attention. Doctors also remind about the need for hygiene, such as thorough hand washing.

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