The World Health Organization continues to receive dozens of reports of cases of hepatitis in children whose origin remains to be determined, with a total of nearly 230 probable cases worldwide.
The majority of cases have been reported in Europe, first in the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom announced at the beginning of the month the occurrence of an abnormally high number of cases of severe acute hepatitis without identified origin in children, who were in particular not carriers of the viruses responsible for the different types of hepatitis.
In France, the latest assessment communicated by Public Health France (SPF), stopped on April 29, mentions two patients meeting the case definition of these unexplained severe pediatric hepatitis, reported by the Lyon University Hospital. In a message addressed to health professionals, the Ministry of Health wants to be reassuring.
In France, if two cases have been reported, this is not “not uncommon“, adds the message. “Cases of acute hepatitis of undetermined etiology in children are not uncommon. The occurrence of these cases is not unexpected and does not, at this stage, indicate an excess of cases in France.“, can we read.
Nevertheless, the Ministry of Health asks professionals to report any hepatitis of unknown origin in children. This consists of filling out a six-page form indicating, for example, if the child has had Covid, if he suffers from asthma, obesity, what medications he has taken recently. Doctors must also take samples and send them to the reference center in Créteil, in Val-de-Marne.
>> What we know about hepatitis of unknown origin that affects childrenyou
The origin of these severe inflammations of the liver remains unknown. This hepatitis mainly affects children under 10 years old, and is manifested by symptoms such as jaundice, diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal pain. Some cases required liver transplantation. At least one child has died. The usual viruses causing acute viral hepatitis (A to E) were not detected in any of the cases.
European and American health authorities suspect an adenovirus to be the cause of these inflammations of the liver in children. This family of viruses circulates a lot in winter. They are very often trivial and harmless, but perhaps this is a new adenovirus.