Hepatitis of ‘unknown origins’ spreads
Multiple cases of acute hepatitis in children have been reported in Europe over the past few days, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said in a statement on Monday.
The UK was the first to report the issue and had accumulated the most cases to date, the watchdog noted. All the cases in Britain were “presented clinically with severe acute hepatitis, with increased levels of liver enzymes,” while some of the patients also “reported gastrointestinal symptoms, including abdominal pain, diarrhea and vomiting in the preceding weeks.”
“Following the reports of cases of acute hepatitis of unknown origin by the UK Health Security Agency, additional cases in children have been reported in Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands, and Spain,” the ECDC stated.
In addition, nine cases of acute hepatitis among children ages one to six have been found in the US state of Alabama, the watchdog said. The transatlantic cases have also tested positive for adenovirus and it was not immediately clear whether or not they are somehow related to the European outbreak.
The origins of acute hepatitis are still unknown and the ECDC along with local specialists are currently running various tests to establish the reasons behind the outbreak. “Investigations are ongoing in all countries reporting cases. At present, the exact cause of hepatitis in these children remains unknown,” the watchdog said.
A UK incident team investigating the cases has suggested that they might have been caused by “an infectious agent or a possible toxic exposure.” The investigators have already ruled out possibilities that the outbreak might be linked to coronavirus vaccines, since the children infected had little in common altogether.
“No link to the COVID-19 vaccine was identified and detailed information collected through a questionnaire to cases about food, drink and personal habits failed to identify any common exposure,” the ECDC stated.