On Friday, the US health authorities announced that they were investigating 109 mysterious cases of hepatitis in children in the United States, which resulted in five deaths.
This acute hepatitis also raises concerns in Europe, where many cases have been recorded, and scientists from all over the world are searching for its causes.
In the United States, cases were monitored in 25 American states and regions, and the average age of infected children is only two years, according to what an official at the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced during a press conference.
Because of their young age, the majority of the children involved were not eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
And the assistant director in charge of infectious diseases at the CDC, Jay Butler, explained that “vaccinating against Covid-19 is not the reason” behind these infections, saying that he seeks through this statement to block the way to rumors circulating on the Internet.
On the other hand, he pointed out that infection with Covid-19 may be a possible cause of these cases.
However, the CDC believes that the infections are likely to be related to a type of adenovirus, which is a common virus that has not previously been attributed to causing hepatitis in healthy children.
It was confirmed that more than half of infected children in the United States tested positive for an adenovirus called “type 41”, which is most known to cause gastroenteritis. This adenovirus has also been detected in many children infected outside the United States.
One hypothesis is that the immune response to this adenovirus may be disrupted by other factors such as infection with COVID-19 or environmental factors such as contact with animals or exposure to toxins. “Investigators here and around the world are working to establish the cause,” said Jay Butler.
Health authorities encourage parents to watch for possible symptoms in children (including vomiting, dark urine, pale stools, and jaundice) and to contact a doctor if they develop any worrisome symptoms.
Two weeks ago, the CDC issued a health warning to doctors to get them to inform the authorities when any suspected infection with unidentified hepatitis was recorded.
And the 109 cases were recorded during the past seven months, according to Butler, who pointed out that 14 percent of the affected children underwent a liver transplant.
While 90 percent of the children concerned were admitted to hospital for treatment, the majority of them recovered.
“We understand that this news can be worrying, especially for parents of young children,” Butler said. “It is important to remember that these acute hepatitis cases are rare.”
He explained that the number of cases of admission of children to the emergency department because of hepatitis is not abnormally high currently in the United States, unlike the situation in Britain.
And 163 cases of this mysterious disease were detected in the United Kingdom, according to the British health authorities, on Friday.
Outside the United States, more than two hundred cases have been recorded, according to another official at the CDC.