First child dies from acute hepatitis of unknown origin while at least 169 cases of acute hepatitis have already been confirmed in 11 countries, WHO reports

The World Health Organization has confirmed the first death from acute hepatitis of unknown origin as cases, initially reported in the United Kingdom, continue to rise. At least 169 cases have now been confirmed in 11 countries, including this fatal one, WHO said. Most cases have been reported in Europe, with the exception of nine confirmed in the United States and 12 in Israel. The United Kingdom has reported the most with 114, followed by Spain with 13.

The WHO has indicated that 17 of the affected children have required a liver transplant after contracting this new disease, whose symptoms are usually abdominal pain, diarrhea or vomiting and could be caused by an adenovirus, perhaps type 41, explains the World Health Organization. It is not yet clear whether there has been an increase in cases or whether this is just a normal pattern that had not been detected until now, although the WHO has expressed some concern that an adenovirus, which is normally associated with mild respiratory ailments, may be causing acute liver inflammation.

First cases of acute hepatitis

The first 10 cases of this acute hepatitis were reported by the United Kingdom to the World Health Organization on April 5, in previously healthy children under 10 years of age.

The age of the children currently affected is between one month and 16 years and in most cases they do not have fever. In addition, the normal viruses associated with these diseases (hepatitis A, B, C, D and E) have not been detected in any of them, WHO explained.

Cases in which adenovirus has been detected

Adenoviruses have been detected in 74 of the cases and 20 of the patients also tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

In view of this rare and unexpected rise in cases of hepatitis of unknown origin, WHO has asked health networks that have identified cases and other countries to continue investigations and take preventive measures.


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