A mysterious spike in childhood hepatitis cases in the UK that saw six youngsters in need of liver transplants has now been seen in mainland Europe and the US.
The surprising increase in disease has been first identified in Britainwith health officials reporting 74 cases in children since January.
The usual viruses that cause infectious hepatitis have not been seen in cases, and scientists and doctors are considering other possible sources, including other viruses and environmental factors.
One potential line of research is whether or not a group of viruses called adenoviruses can cause disease.
On Tuesday, the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control said more cases had now been identified in DenmarkIreland, the Netherlands and Spain.
Meanwhile, nine cases of acute hepatitis have been discovered in children between the ages of one and six in Alabama, in the USA.
Six patients required a liver transplant
“Mild hepatitis is very common in children following a series of viral infections, but what you’re seeing now is quite different,” said Graham Cooke, professor of infectious diseases at Imperial College. from London.
Some of the UK cases required specialist care in liver units and at least six patients required liver transplants.
In Great Britain, parents are urged to be vigilant signs of disease which, in some cases, can cause scarring of the liver or loss of liver function.
Jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin), dark urine, itchy skin, muscle and joint pain, loss of appetite and high temperature are some of the symptoms of hepatitis.
Lab tests are underway to determine the cause
British authorities have stressed there is “no link” to the COVID-19 injections as none of the children affected received a coronavirus vaccine.
Lab tests are also underway to determine if a chemical or toxin could be the cause.
The UN health agency said that given the increase in the number of cases over the past month and heightened surveillance, it was “very likely” that more cases would be detected before the cause of the epidemic is identified.
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