United Kingdom: WHO on alert after numerous cases of children affected by hepatitis of unknown origin

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The World Health Organization is monitoring cases of hepatitis in dozens of children in the UK. The origin of the disease, which led to liver transplants for some, is still unknown.

On April 5, the UK had reported ten cases of severe hepatitis in Scotland. Ten days later, 74 cases are identified, mostly in children under 10 years old. A situation monitored by the WHO, she warned in a press release this Friday, April 15.

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Some cases have led to hospitalization in a service specializing in liver disease. Six children underwent a transplant. No deaths have been recorded, but the pathology crosses borders: a handful of cases have been reported in Ireland and three in Spain.

The WHO is monitoring the situation very closely.

This hepatitis is manifested by symptoms such as jaundice, diarrhea, vomiting or abdominal pain. Hepatitis of known origin, ie viruses A and E, were not detected in these children. British health authorities are examining the hypothesis of another type of virus (“adenovirus”) and other causes such as Covid-19 or environmental factors.

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Meera Chand of the UK Health Safety Agency (UKHSA) pointed out in a statement that “normal hygiene measures” such as hand washing “help to reduce many of the infections we are investigating” and called on parents and babysitters to be alert for signs of hepatitis, and to “contact a healthcare professional if they are concerned”.

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One origin has been ruled out: the vaccine against Covid-19. It has not been given to any affected person in the UK. “No other epidemiological risk factor has been identified to date, including recent international travel,” says the WHO, which “closely monitors the situation”.

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