The Ministry of Health monitors seven cases in the country that may be hepatitis of unknown cause in children. So far, four patients in Rio de Janeiro and three in Paraná are under investigation for a possible condition of “mysterious hepatitis”. The cases in Brazil, however, still depend on the results of more tests so that it is possible to say if it is the disease.
According to the ministry, the Centers for Strategic Information on Health Surveillance (CIEVS) monitor suspected cases of the disease and changes in the health scenario together with the hospital epidemiology centers of the National Hospital Surveillance Network (RENAVEH).
“The folder guides health professionals and the National Network for Surveillance, Alert and Response to Public Health Emergencies of the Unified Health System (VigiAR-SUS) that suspicions are notified immediately”, the folder replied to GLOBO.
The disease has affected children under 16 around the world and was initially identified in the United Kingdom, which recorded the first death from the disease. Cases began to be reported in early April. Until last Wednesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) had registered 228 cases worldwide. None in Brazil. The number of deaths is still uncertain, but in addition to the United Kingdom, three other deaths were announced by Indonesia.
This Thursday, Argentina, which borders Brazil, recorded the first case of the disease. An 8-year-old male child was admitted to the Children’s Hospital of the City of Rosário. The case was the first reported in Latin America.
The disease results from an inflammation in the liver and the symptoms related to it are jaundice (yellow coloration of the skin and eyes), diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal pain. According to available information, about 10% of cases need liver transplantation.
In view of the global alert, the Ministry of Health’s guidance is that state and municipal secretariats immediately notify unexpected cases of acute hepatitis with unknown etiology in children and report any change in the health scenario related to these occurrences.
In an interview last Wednesday, WHO Regional Director for Emergencies in Europe, Gerald Rockenschaub, said he considered the issue “very urgent”:
“We are giving this absolute priority and working very closely with the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control on management and coordination. We are doing everything possible to quickly identify what is causing this and then take appropriate action, both at nationally and internationally”, he said.
So far, according to the WHO, the suspicion is that the disease is caused by an adenovirus, since the viruses that cause hepatitis A, B, C, D or E were not found in patients. As a National Focal Point that interfaces with the International Health Regulations, an instrument that brings together all WHO member countries, Brazil continually shares information about cases with the organization.
The WHO rules out that the disease is related to vaccination against Covid-19. According to data from the organization, most of the affected children did not receive the immunizing agent. One of the lines of investigation among specialists is that the low exposure of children due to the isolation necessary in the Covid-19 pandemic may have weakened the immune system for other diseases.
Among the measures to prevent the disease, hand hygiene is recommended, and respiratory etiquette, such as covering the mouth and nose in case of coughing or sneezing.