The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that it monitors cases of severe acute hepatitis of unknown origin in children in Europe. According to the entity, from January to April 8, 74 cases were reported in the United Kingdom.
In Spain there were also confirmation of three cases, and at least six are under investigation, in Ireland. According to the WHO, given the increase in cases reported in the last month and the more accurate investigations, it is likely that more cases of the disease will be reported in the coming days.
The clinical syndrome in the identified cases is acute hepatitis with markedly elevated liver enzymes, often with jaundice (yellowish discoloration of the skin, eyes, and/or mucosa), sometimes with gastrointestinal symptoms, especially in children up to 10 years of age.
According to the WHO, some cases required transfer to specialized infant liver units and six children underwent liver transplantation. As of April 11, no deaths have been reported among these cases.
What is hepatitis?
Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver, which is a vital organ for processing nutrients, filtering blood, and fighting infections.
Inflammation can affect liver function, and the disease can vary in severity depending on the cause.
While some types of hepatitis are mild and do not require treatment, other forms of the disease can become chronic and life-threatening.
Hepatitis is often contracted through the hepatitis virus, of which there are five main types: A, B, C, D and E.
However, these viruses were not found in the UK cases, and scientists and doctors are now considering other possible causes, including Covid-19, other viral infections and environmental factors.
The UK Health Safety Agency (UKHSA) reported that “there is no link to the Covid-19 vaccine”, adding that none of the confirmed cases in the UK have been vaccinated. The agency said one of several potential causes is adenoviruses.
“Adenoviruses are a family of common viruses that usually cause a range of mild illnesses and most people recover without complications,” he said.