Hepatitis of unknown origin: a “potentially serious impact”, the European disease agency is concerned

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The European Center for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC) has classified the hepatitis of unknown origin that is currently affecting several countries around the world as a “public health event of concern”. It predicts a potential impact on the pediatric population which could be “potentially severe”.

This is still a “mystery”. The number of cases of acute hepatitis of unknown origin continues to increase worldwide. This Thursday, April 28, the European Center for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC) has also classified this disease as a “worrying public health event”. According to the institution, the causes of these liver inflammations remain unexplained and the potential impact on the pediatric population could be “potentially serious”.

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“The disease is quite rare and evidence of human-to-human transmission remains unclear. Cases in the European Union are sporadic with an unclear trend,” the European health body continues. The agency indicates that it is not in a position for the time being to assess the health risk of these hepatitis. “Nevertheless, considering the reported cases of acute liver failure, with cases requiring transplantation, the potential impact for the pediatric population is considered high,” continues the institution.

191 cases detected worldwide

This week, the World Health Organization (WHO) had already expressed its concerns regarding these cases of hepatitis, which mainly affect children under 10 years old. Last week, the UN agency had also announced that a child had died of the disease. In addition, at least ten sick minors had to undergo a liver transplant. According to the latest data reported, 191 cases have been identified worldwide. The cradle of these liver inflammations is in the United Kingdom: 114 cases have been identified across the Channel when 53 others have been identified in various European countries (including two in France, near Lyon). There are also 12 cases in the United States, 2 in Israel and a very first case in Japan.

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Health authorities are currently investigating plausible causes. Several hypotheses, ranging from SARS-CoV-2 to an adenovirus, are favored for the time being. “An adenovirus infection, which would be mild under normal circumstances, would trigger a more severe infection or immune-mediated liver injury,” the ECDC says. The health authorities are also examining cases of poisoning. While waiting to learn more, “cleaning of hands and surfaces in places frequented by young children” is recommended in the face of this mysterious evil.

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