Hepatitis outbreak in children: 600+ cases worldwide, cause remains a mystery

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An outbreak of acute hepatitis is impacting young children in a dozen countries. Mysterious cases of serious liver damage or hepatitis in kids have been reported in more than 30 countries, including the U.S., the U.K., Japan, and Canada.Health officials say there have been more than 600 cases, at least 38 liver transplants, and nine deaths.

Health officials report that the outbreak may be linked to adenovirus, a common cold virus.Any child showing signs of jaundice, a symptom of hepatitis, should be evaluated by a medical professional as soon as possible.

This is a developing story. We will provide updates as more information becomes available.

Health officials are searching for clues as a puzzling outbreak of serious liver disease impacts young children in Europe, North America, and Asia.

Worldwide, there have been more than 600 cases linked to acute hepatitis of “unknown origin,” according to the World Health OrganizationTrusted Source.

On May 27, the WHO confirmed that nine children have died as a result of the disease. Out of all the identified cases across the globe, about 6%, or at least 38 children, have required liver transplants.

The cases were first recorded in the United Kingdom where a majority of the cases have been identified. The outbreak has since spread to more than 30 countries, including the United States, Canada, and Japan.In the U.S., cases have been identified in multiple states, including Alabama, North Carolina, Illinois, and Wisconsin.

The children’s ages range from 1 month to 16 years old. However, more than 75% of cases are among children under 5 years of age, according to the WHO.

So far, none tested positive for known hepatitis viruses A, B, C, D, or E, suggesting novel pathogenesis.

Hepatitis is indicated by excessively high liver enzyme levels. Medical experts are scrambling to identify the cause of the outbreak. While not confirmed, there is evidence that a common virus, adenovirus, may be involved, the U.K.’s Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said in a technical briefing Monday.

According to the WHO, a strain of adenovirus known as F type 41 was detected in a majority of the cases.

“While adenovirus is a possible hypothesis, investigations are ongoing for the causative agent,” the agency said in a statement.

As the medical community is on the lookout for new cases, the number of affected children is expected to rise as more cases have been reported in Ireland, Spain, Israel, and other countries.

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