British Health Service: “More evidence that adenovirus appears to cause occult hepatitis in children” | True

Evidence is mounting that a common virus has been linked to rare cases of acute hepatitis that have occurred in some young children. So says the British Health Service.

Worldwide, 169 cases of acute hepatitis in children and 1 death have been recorded. In the UK, 114 children have contracted the disease. Ten of them required a liver transplant. At UMC Groningen, the only hospital in the Netherlands that performs pediatric liver transplants, four children under the age of 10 were admitted with acute hepatitis in a very short time last week. ‘Common’ variants of hepatitis C were excluded as causative agents.

A strain of adenovirus called F41 appears to be the most likely cause, according to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA). BBC News. Most infected children are five years of age or younger and have stomach flu symptoms — diarrhea and nausea — followed by jaundice, or yellowing of the skin and eyes. This is a sign that the liver is suffering.

“Increasingly, the information gathered in our research suggests that this increase in sudden onset hepatitis in children is associated with adenovirus infection,” said Meera Chand, UKHSA’s Director of Clinical and Emerging Infections. “We are continuing to investigate other possible causes.” For example, it is also being investigated whether adenovirus can cause liver problems after a recent corona infection. There is no association with the covid vaccine. None of the British children with acute hepatitis C have been vaccinated.

common virus

Adenovirus is a common virus that does not make most children very sick. Cases of hepatitis – inflammation of the liver – are extremely rare, but they can be very serious. Scientists are now investigating whether there is a change in the genetic makeup of the virus, which can more easily cause hepatitis.

Another possible explanation is that last winter’s coronavirus restrictions resulted in young children being exposed to such adenovirus for the first time a little later in life, triggering a ‘stronger’ immune response in some. “The adenovirus virtually disappeared during the Corona outbreak and has now come back in a wave,” Calum Semple explains to BBC Radio. He is an expert in infectious diseases at the University of Liverpool.


The adenovirus virtually disappeared during the Corona outbreak and has now returned in a wave

Calum Semple

The virus circulates year-round, but it usually peaks in the winter months. According to the UK Health Service, there has been a higher infection rate in recent weeks than in previous years, especially among children aged 1 to 4 years.

RIVM says a lot of data is still being collected in the Netherlands and that there is still too little information to draw conclusions from. Britain has already seen an increase in acute hepatitis cases in children and is looking for a possible explanation. “But adenovirus is one of the options that is being considered,” says Karole Ellie, MD, president of the Dutch Pediatrics Association.

Puzzle pieces are in place

Speaking before an emergency session at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (ECCMID) in Lisbon yesterday, UKHSA Director Shand explained how the pieces of the puzzle are in place to understand the “extraordinary and challenging situation”. She indicated when parents should sound the alarm if their child is sick. For example, you think it would be wise to see a doctor if children are “unusually tired,” their skin looks yellow, their urine is dark in color or their stools are pale, gray in color.

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