Seventy-four cases of acute hepatitis were discovered in children of the United Kingdom until the 8th of April, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Since then, registrations have grown in Europe and the United States. The origin of the infection, however, is still unknown and is being investigated.
For now, the WHO does not guide restricting travel to countries with cases of the disease and highlights that the priority at the moment is to find the cause of the paintings. The concern is due to the fact that the infection can lead to a number of health problems, which can be fatal.
See below what is known so far.
What is hepatitis?
According to the WHO, hepatitis is an inflammation that affects the liver caused by a variety of infectious viruses (viral hepatitis) and non-infectious agents. The infection can lead to a number of health problems, which can be fatal. There are five strains of the hepatitis virus: A, B, C, D and E.
Although they all cause liver disease, they have different modes of transmission, severity, geographic distribution and preventive methods. Viruses B and C, says the WHO, cause chronic disease in millions of people and together are the leading cause of liver cirrhosis, liver cancer and deaths related to viral hepatitis. An estimated 354 million people worldwide are living with hepatitis B or C. Most do not access testing and treatment.
According to the UK Health Safety Agency (UKHSA), the most common symptoms of the disease are: dark urine; white or grayish stools; itchy skin; yellow eyes and skin (jaundice); muscle and joint pain; tiredness; loss of appetite; belly aches.
What causes the acute hepatitis afflicting UK children?
This is the key to the matter. As much as health professionals and agencies in the United Kingdom have studied the cases since January, they still haven’t found the etiology of the cases. According to the WHO, in the UK cases, laboratory tests ruled out hepatitis A, B, C, D and E viruses.
Among the UK cases, many were infected with adenovirus (a family of common viruses that usually cause mild illness) or with the virus that causes Covid-19, the WHO said. Recently, there has been an increase in the activity of adenoviruses in the region, which co-circulate with SARS-CoV-2.
As much as they are investigated as potential causes, the role of these viruses in pathogenesis (mechanism by which the disease develops) is still unclear. No other epidemiological risk factors were identified, including recent international travel. The UKHSA reported that there was no link to the vaccine against covid – none of the confirmed cases received immunization.
This week, UK teams reported that an infectious agent is the most likely cause of the problem, but a full diagnosis is still under investigation by local authorities.
What symptoms are UK children showing?
The picture of European children is one of acute infection. Many have jaundice, which is sometimes preceded by gastrointestinal symptoms, especially in children up to 10 years of age.
How old are the patients?
The syndrome affects patients up to 16 years of age. Most cases are in the range of 2 to 5 years.
Have any deaths ever been recorded?
Some of the patients needed to be transferred to specialized infant liver units and six needed a transplant. No deaths were recorded as of April 11.
In which countries are there cases?
Of the confirmed cases, 49 are from England, 13 from Scotland and the rest from Wales and Northern Ireland, according to UK authorities. After the UK alert, Ireland, the Netherlands, Denmark and Spain also reported confirmed and suspected cases to the WHO. They are still under investigation. US officials have also reported cases.
How have these countries responded to the cases?
According to the WHO, clinical and public health measures were adopted in the United Kingdom in order to coordinate the identification of cases and to investigate the etiology of the disease. Authorities study the exposure history of patients, apply toxicological and virological/microbiological tests. In Ireland and Spain, the measures were also applied
How to prevent?
Even without an identified cause, in a note, the director of Clinical and Emerging Infections at UKHSA, Meera Chand gave some guidance to parents and guardians. “Conventional hygiene measures, such as good handwashing and respiratory hygiene, help to reduce the spread of many of the infections we are investigating.” She also urged them to be on the lookout for signs of hepatitis and contact healthcare professionals.
What were the WHO guidelines?
According to the WHO, as there has been an increasing trend in cases since last month in the UK, in addition to an extensive search, it is likely that more confirmations will occur before the etiology (cause) is identified. The organization encouraged countries to identify, investigate and report potential cases. Based on the information obtained so far, the organization has recommended not to restrict travel to countries with confirmed cases. But he highlighted that he is monitoring the scenario.
Are there suspected cases in Brazil?
According to the alert issued by the WHO, there are still no confirmed cases outside Europe. However, the organization called for attention from all member countries. THE Estadão made contact with National Health Surveillance Agency (anvisa) It is like Ministry of Healthbut received no response until the publication of this text.