There are already 170 cases of acute childhood hepatitis in 12 countries, most of them in Europe. Of the total, 17 required liver transplantation and one death was recorded. Although the cause is unknown, the main hypothesis raised is that the disease may be being triggered by a new strain of adenovirus, a virus of the common cold.
Data from the UK health agency show 75% of hepatitis cases tested in the country were infected with adenovirus type 41F.
Although this is a probable cause, it still would not explain the severity of the clinical conditions observed so far, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). “Adenovirus type 41 infection has not previously been linked to such a clinical presentation,” the UN health agency explained.
Symptoms beyond the cold
It is common for adenoviruses to settle in the airways, causing colds, bronchitis and even pneumonia. But they can also reach the digestive tract and cause gastrointestinal symptoms, including abdominal pain, diarrhea and vomiting.
Adenoviruses are also causative agents of viral conjunctivitis, which is highly contagious.
Adenoviruses are transmitted mainly through direct contact with infected droplets from the respiratory tract, shed by coughing or sneezing. As in the case of the coronavirus, this type of transmission is facilitated in closed places and with agglomerations of people.
Transmission also occurs through contact with objects contaminated by these secretions. It is important to note that adenoviruses are extremely resistant in the environment and can survive for many hours on surfaces.
Another form of transmission is through ingestion of contaminated food or water and contact with eye secretions in cases of conjunctivitis caused by the virus.
According to Hospital Infantil Sabará, symptoms of respiratory infections caused by this type of virus can develop 2 to 14 days after exposure. Symptoms of intestinal tract infections usually develop between 3 and 10 days after exposure.
Prevention is similar to care against coronavirus. Among all, the most important thing is to wash your hands with soap and running water before meals, after using the bathroom or touching objects of collective use.
Covering your mouth and nose with a tissue, when coughing or sneezing, is another habit that helps to avoid contagion.