Acute hepatitis in children: the American authorities favor the trace of a virus

While dozens of unexplained cases of hepatitis are affecting children in Europe and the United States, traces of a virus seem likely.

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An analysis of mysterious cases of hepatitis in very young children in the United States this week led the American health authorities to favor the trace of an adenovirus to explain these serious liver infections without establishing it as the definitive cause.

Adenoviruses are more common viruses and are known to cause breathing difficulties, conjunctivitis or even indigestion.

The United States is far from the only country affected by this unexplained hepatitis phenomenon: dozens of cases have been identified across Europe, raising fears of a new epidemic.

The European disease authority classified these unexplained cases on Thursday as ” Public Health Event of Concern “.

Adenovirus type 41?

We currently believe that an adenovirus could be the cause of these cases, but other environmental factors are still under investigation. wrote the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the nation’s top federal public health agency.

Specifically, the CDC points to the so-called adenovirus ” type 41 ‘, previously known to cause severe gastroenteritis.

Adenoviruses are well identified as causes of hepatitis, but so far only in immunocompromised children (ie whose immune system is weakened).

A total of nine cases identified in Alabama between October 2021 and February 2022 were investigated in depth. The children were about one to six years old and otherwise all healthy.

Most of the children suffered from vomiting and diarrhea and some breathing difficulties. Two children had to undergo liver transplants. All are currently cured or in remission.

The nine small patients were found to be carriers of the adenovirus. Five cases could be analyzed in the laboratory, then the adenovirus type 41 was detected.

The CDC has ruled out several other causes, including Covid-19 infection and hepatitis A, B, and C viruses.

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Thierry Vanderbecken
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