The mysterious diseases of hepatitis in children continue to increase around the world. At least 228 such cases in 20 countries had been reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) as of May 1, WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said in Geneva. After three deaths in Indonesia, the global death toll from unexplained childhood hepatitis cases has risen to four.
Most cases in Europe
There are “at least 228 probable cases” worldwide, WHO spokesman Jasarevic said. More than 50 other suspected cases are still under control. Hepatitis cases have been reported in four of the six regions into which the WHO divides the world.
According to the WHO, most cases of hepatitis in children for which causative agents of hepatitis A, B, C, D and E have been ruled out have occurred in Europe. The first cases were observed in Great Britain, there were others in other European countries such as Germany, as well as in Israel and Japan.
abdominal pain, diarrhoea, vomiting, jaundice
Hepatitis occurred in children aged from one month to 16 years. Children under ten were particularly affected, and children under five were the most affected. Several children had to undergo a new liver transplant.
The vast majority of affected children were healthy before falling ill. Early symptoms included abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting and jaundice.
Four deaths so far
Until now, a death due to the mysterious inflammation of the liver was known worldwide. The Indonesian Ministry of Health has now reported three more deaths. The three children, aged two, eight and 11, died in a hospital in the capital Jakarta in April.
The children previously suffered from fever, jaundice, convulsions and unconsciousness, ministry spokeswoman Siti Nadia Tarmizi told AFP news agency. To clarify the cause, many viruses are currently being tested. The Health Ministry has urged parents to take their children to hospital immediately if they show symptoms of hepatitis.
Investigation in progress
Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver that rarely occurs in healthy children. Experts rule out a connection between the most recent cases and corona vaccinations, as many affected children were not vaccinated. There is also no evidence of a link with the painkiller paracetamol, which can lead to liver failure in overdose.
As a “working hypothesis”, the European health authority ECDC is examining a possible link with adenoviruses – widespread viruses that normally only cause minor illnesses. There are more than 50 types of these viruses that are transmitted by droplet infection. Most of these pathogens cause colds, but some trigger other symptoms.