20 countries report cases of severe hepatitis in children

severe hepatitis in children, hepatitis cases
© Lucian Coman

The World Health Organisation (WHO) say that 20 countries are now reporting cases of severe hepatitis in children, after an initial outbreak in the UK

The WHO, evaluating the ongoing outbreak of hepatitis cases, said that five out of six regions of the world are now reporting cases.

Atleast 228 cases of severe hepatitis in children, across 20 countries

“There are now at least 228 probable cases reported from 20 countries,” said Philippa Easterbrook, a senior scientist in the WHO’s global hepatitis program.

At this point, one child has died and 18 have received liver transplants.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said that the cases were rare but potentially harmful. They are working in an international collaboration with other medical authorities to establish the reason for the outbreak, but so far, most cases have been linked to adenovirus.

The outbreak is not related to the COVID-19 vaccine

While there have been online rumours that the COVID vaccine is somehow related to cases of severe hepatitis in children, this is not true. Most of the children who are being hospitalised also have not been given a dose of the vaccine yet.

Hepatitis targets the liver, causing inflammation. Since the liver processes nutrients, filters blood and fights infections, these crucial functions can be affected by any damage to the organ. In children, extreme side effects may include liver failure, liver cancer or death. The most important thing to do in a suspected case of child hepatitis is to get immediate medical intervention.

The disease remains rare but the risk levels are unknown, says EU health authority

The ECDC, writing about the potential cause of the disturbing outbreak, said: “The disease is quite rare and evidence around human-to-human transmission remains unclear; cases in the EU/EEA are sporadic with an unclear trend.

“As a result, the risk for the European paediatric population cannot be accurately assessed. However, considering the reported cases with acute liver failure, with some cases requiring liver transplantation, the potential impact for the affected paediatric population is considered high.”


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