Evidence is growing that a common virus is associated with rare cases of acute hepatitis that have occurred in some young children. So says the British health service.
Worldwide, there are 169 cases of acute hepatitis among children and one death. In the UK, 114 children became ill. Ten of them required a liver transplant. In UMC Groningen, the only hospital in the Netherlands that performs liver transplants for children, four children under the age of 10 were admitted with acute hepatitis last week in a very short time. The ‘normal’ variants of hepatitis are excluded as the causative agents.
A strain of adenovirus called F41 appears to be the most likely cause, according to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA). BBC news† Most of the affected children are five years old or younger and have had stomach flu symptoms – diarrhea and nausea – followed by jaundice or yellowing of the skin and eyes. It is a sign that the liver is struggling.
“Information gathered in our study increasingly suggests that this increase in sudden onset hepatitis in children is related to adenovirus infection,” said Meera Chand, Director of Clinical and New Infections at UKHSA. “We are continuing to investigate other possible causes.” It is also being investigated whether adenovirus can cause liver problems after a recent corona infection. There is no association with the covid vaccine. None of the British children who have acute hepatitis have been vaccinated.
Adenovirus is a common virus that does not make most children particularly ill. Cases of hepatitis – an inflammation of the liver – are extremely rare but can be very serious. Researchers are now investigating whether there has been a change in the genetic makeup of the virus that could more easily trigger hepatitis.
Another possible explanation is that the corona restrictions introduced last winter resulted in young children being exposed to such an adenovirus for the first time at a slightly later stage in their lives, leading to a ‘stronger’ immune response. in some. “The adenovirus largely disappeared during the corona outbreak and has now returned in a wave,” Calum Semple explained to British television. He is an expert in infectious diseases at the University of Liverpool.
The adenovirus largely disappeared during the corona outbreak and has now returned in a wave
The virus is found all year round, but usually peaks during the winter months. According to the UK Health Service, the infection rate has been higher in recent weeks than in previous years, especially among children aged 1 to 4 years.
RIVM says that a lot of data is still being collected in the Netherlands and that there is still too little information to draw conclusions. The UK has previously seen an increase in the number of cases of children with acute hepatitis and has previously looked for a possible explanation. “But adenovirus is one of the options being considered,” said Karóly Illy, president of the Dutch Pediatric Association.
Puzzle pieces in place
UKHSA Director Chand told an emergency session yesterday at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (ECCMID) in Lisbon how the pieces of the puzzle fall into place to understand the ‘unusual and challenging situation’. She indicated when parents should ring the bell if their child is ill. For example, she thinks it is wise to consult a doctor whose children are ‘unusually tired’, their skin looks yellowish, they have dark urine or pale, gray stools.
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