Cases of Hepatitis of Unknown Origin in Children Raise Alarm
After several cases of acute hepatitis of unknown origin in children in the United Kingdom were reported, further cases have now been reported in France (two cases), Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands, and Spain. More than 80 cases have been reported overall, raising fears of an epidemic, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) in a press release. Furthermore, nine cases have allegedly been reported since last autumn in Alabama in the United States. These cases have mainly been in children aged 1-6 years. Investigations are ongoing in all these countries, particularly as the "exact causes of these cases of acute hepatitis remain unknown." Nevertheless, the team working on these cases in the United Kingdom believes that, based on clinical and epidemiologic data, the cause is probably infectious in origin.
@olibhiya For context, on April 5, the United Kingdom reported about 10 cases of acute hepatitis of unknown origin in children younger than 10 in Scotland with no underlying conditions. Seven days later, the UK reported that 61 additional cases were under investigation in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, the majority of which were in children aged 2-5 years. The cases in the United Kingdom presented with severe acute hepatitis, with increased liver enzyme levels (aspartate aminotransferase [AST] and alanine aminotransferase [ALT] levels above 500 IU/L), and most presented with jaundice. Some reported gastrointestinal symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, and vomiting in the previous weeks.