There’s been a mysterious increase in cases of child hepatitis worldwide. The condition first spotted in the UK has now jumped to 300 cases in Europe, with small numbers also reported in the Americas, western Pacific, and South East Asia.
Adenovirus, which resurfaced as the pandemic began to ease is the suspected cause of the surge in hepatitis. The first case was discovered in Scotland. Now, WHO has detected 20 severe cases in the United States.
Most of the children affected are between the ages of 1 and 6. The symptoms begin with nausea and diarrhoea, and it can quickly cause yellowing of eyes and skin, pointing to burgeoning liver damage.
WHO has reported one death, an infant and 17 children have needed liver transplants.
Speaking on the cases, Dr. Meera Chand, director of clinical and emerging infections at UKHSA, said: “Information gathered through our investigations increasingly suggests that this rise in sudden onset hepatitis in children is linked to adenovirus infection”
Read more on the outbreak of child hepatitis HERE.
What parents should know
It is usual for parents to go into high-alert mode when there’s an outbreak of diseases that target children.
However, experts have asked parents to stay calm as the chances of fatal harm to their children are pretty low.
“Severe hepatitis leading to liver failure is extremely rare,” says Klatte of Dayton Children’s Hospital. “A diagnosis of adenovirus shouldn’t make you reflexively worry it will lead to this rare complication.”
Dr. Fischer of Children’s Mercy also says that treatment for adenovirus-related hepatitis in children is majorly supportive and full recovery is possible.
“With time and attention to meeting the child’s needs (e.g., intravenous fluids if they’re dehydrated), recovery is common,” he says. “The liver can completely heal, and we would not expect long-term effects after recovery.”