Mystery Liver Disease Seen Among Children in UK, US, Europe, and Israel

A mystery liver disease of unknown origin that is leaving children in hospital, has spread to the US, Israel, and four countries in Europe since the UK reported earlier this year an outbreak of unexplained hepatitis cases among children.

A total of 74 cases of hepatitis, or liver inflammation, in children since January were reported last week by British health officials, but Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands, Spain, Israel, and the US also confirmed cases of the serious disease.

Israel’s Health Ministry announced on Tuesday night that 12 cases of hepatitis from an unexplained source have been reported in children at Shaare Zedek Medical Center and Schneider Children’s Medical Center for Israel.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) did not say how many cases have been identified in Europe.

Graham Cooke, a professor of infectious diseases at Imperial College London noted that mild hepatitis is very common in children following a range of viral infections, but what is being seen at the moment is quite different since none of the children had underlying health conditions.

Nine cases of acute hepatitis have been detected in the southern state of Alabama in children aged 1 to 6, according to the state’s health department, which has experienced symptoms of a gastrointestinal illness and varying degrees of liver injury including liver failure.

Since the usual viruses that cause infectious hepatitis – lab investigations have excluded hepatitis types A, B, C, D, and E – were not found in any of the cases, scientists and doctors are considering alternative sources, including Covid-19, other viruses, and environmental factors.

Analyses conducted after all nine sufferers in Alabama had tested positive for adenovirus, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health, have revealed a possible association of this hepatitis with Adenovirus 41.

British scientists also pointed out that an adenovirus, a common micro-organism, could be the possible cause but some doctors underscored that adenoviruses are so common in children that merely finding them in children with hepatitis does not necessarily mean they’re responsible for the liver disease.

According to the ECDC, no link to the COVID-19 vaccine was found as none of the affected children had been vaccinated and Prof. Cooke also does not believe Covid-19 was responsible due to the high prevalence of the virus compared to hepatitis cases.

The detailed information collected about food, drink, and personal habits failed to identify any common exposure, none of the children had traveled overseas recently, and lab tests are underway to determine if a chemical or toxin might be the cause.

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