This Friday (13), the day on which the third suspected case of childhood hepatitis of still mysterious origin was announced in Santa Catarina by DIVE/SC (Directorate of Epidemiological Surveillance of Santa Catarina), new research pointed to the theory that an infection caused by Sars-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, may be related to the disease that has already caused more than 300 cases around the world, according to the WHO (World Health Organization).
The research was carried out at Imperial College London, in the United Kingdom, and at Cedars Sinai Medical Center, in the United States, and published in the scientific journal The Lancet Gastroenterology & Hepatology, through an article.
Researchers suspect that an adenovirus – the pathogen that causes the common cold – is behind the disease. However, it is not yet known why these routine agents would be causing such a serious and unexpected consequence.
The cases of hepatitis recorded so far have tested negative for the traditional viruses that cause inflammation: A, B, C, D and E. For this reason, since April, when the reports began, experts have sought explanations for the mystery.
The British health agency’s main hypothesis is that the cause is adenovirus 41F, a pathogen identified in 72% of children diagnosed with inflammation in the UK. However, they still consider the possibility that the problem is a post-infection syndrome by Covid-19, an effect that would be restricted to the Ômicron variant. According to the researchers, both hypotheses may be right.
The article raises the possibility that Sars-CoV-2 has prolonged effects on the body that eventually lead to exacerbated inflammation when children are infected with the adenovirus. They explain that the Covid-19 virus forms reservoirs that persist in the gastrointestinal tract even after infection and can lead to the repeated release of viral proteins that activate immune cells.
The repetition would be associated with Sars-CoV-2 having an effect called a superantigen, which causes certain viruses or bacteria to stimulate a much higher than normal concentration of defense T cells in some people. The problem is that this high population of cells of the immune system, out of the ordinary, causes several inflammatory events in the body.
The thesis gains strength because in Israel, 11 out of 12 children with hepatitis have tested positive for Covid-19 in the previous months. Experts point out that any relationship with vaccines has been ruled out. This is because most cases are in children under 5 years old, a public that has not been vaccinated.
Suspected cases in SC
In Santa Catarina, three suspected cases are being investigated. The latest case, released on Friday, is a three-year-old child from São José, in Florianópolis, who is hospitalized in the capital. The symptoms started in April and the curious fact is that the tests for hepatitis A, B and C were negative.
According to DIVE, the three cases are being investigated by the Municipal Health Departments. The investigation is also being carried out with the support of DIVE and the Santa Catarina Central Laboratory (LACEN/SC) to carry out the necessary laboratory tests.
Remember the other cases
On May 6, the first suspected case of “mysterious” hepatitis was reported in Itajaí, North Coast of Santa Catarina. The 7-year-old girl was hospitalized at Pequeno Anjo Children’s Hospital and was released on Monday (9).
The second case was reported just three days later (9). The record is of a 16-year-old teenager, from Balneário Camboriú, also on the North Coast of the state.
The teenager did not need to be hospitalized and is being monitored at home by state and municipal epidemiological surveillance.