UK and US investigating cases of acute hepatitis in children

(CNN) – UK and US health officials are investigating cases of acute hepatitis in children.

The World Health Organization has identified 74 cases of severe acute hepatitis (hepatitis) among children across the UK, the World Health Organization said. In a press release on Friday. Alabama health officials also said Friday that they are investigating increased hepatitis in young children.

In its statement, the World Health Organization said that laboratory tests “excluded hepatitis A, B, C and E (and D where applicable) viruses in these cases, while severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus type 2 (SARS-CoV) -2) and/or adenoviruses have been detected in several cases.”

“Although the potential role of adenovirus and/or SARS-CoV-2 in causing these cases is postulated, other infectious and non-infectious agents need to be thoroughly investigated to properly assess and manage the risks,” he said.

Other epidemiological risk factors, including recent international travel, have not been identified. “Overall, the etiology of current hepatitis cases is still unknown and is still under active investigation. Laboratory testing for additional infections, chemicals and toxins are being conducted for the identified cases,” the WHO said.

The World Health Organization warns that more cases are likely to be discovered before there are responses and corresponding control and prevention measures are taken.

The World Health Organization first identified 10 cases of the disease in previously healthy children aged 11 months to 5 years in central Scotland on 5 April. Additional investigations in the UK have identified a total of 74 cases, including the original 10, as of 8 April.

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Six of the children underwent liver transplants, but as of April 11, no deaths had been reported. An epidemiologically linked case detected: a person with acute hepatitis in close contact with a confirmed case since January.

Fewer than five confirmed or probable cases have been reported in Ireland and three confirmed cases in Spain. These cases are investigated.

“We strongly encourage Member States to identify, investigate and report potential cases that meet the case definition,” the WHO said. “The World Health Organization is not recommending any restrictions on travel and/or trade with the United Kingdom, or any other country in which cases are being identified, based on the information currently available.”

The Alabama Department of Public Health said in a separate statement Friday that it is investigating an increase in hepatitis in young children.

These children presented to providers in various areas of Alabama with symptoms of gastrointestinal disease and varying degrees of liver injury, including liver failure. Subsequent analyzes revealed a possible link between this hepatitis and adenovirus 41,” he said.

To date, nine children under the age of 10 have been identified as positive for adenovirus and two have required liver transplantation. The affected children were from all over Alabama and no epidemiological link had been established between them. None of these children had any noticeable underlying health conditions.”

In a statement obtained by CNN, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said it is aware and working with the Alabama Department of Public Health to investigate the nine cases of hepatitis in children, ages 1 to 6, who have also tested positive. adenovirus since October 2021.

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They are also aware of recently reported cases in Europe, and have contacted their European counterparts to understand what they are learning. “Adenovirus has been confirmed in many, but not all, European cases,” said the CDC, which is working with state health departments across the United States to see if there are additional cases in the country.

“Currently, adenoviruses may be the culprit, but researchers are still learning more, including ruling out more common causes of hepatitis,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in its statement. “It is important to note that not all diseases are reported at the state or national level, and in these cases, the CDC uses various surveillance methods, including working closely with clinicians and health departments to identify and detect unusual patterns or clusters of diseases,” they added.

The US National Public Health Agency said it will share additional information as it becomes available.

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