The World Health Organisation has alerted health authorities of an unexplained outbreak of acute hepatitis among kids across the world.
The global health authority has asked countries with confirmed cases to monitor the situation and keep an eye on new cases of hepatitis being recorded.
As of now, countries in Europe, the Americas, and Asia have all detected cases of acute hepatitis among children.
FIT answers all your FAQs on acute hepatitis among kids, and what the situation is like.
What is acute hepatitis?
Acute Hepatitis is caused when there is an inflammation in the liver resulting in elevated levels of liver enzymes in the blood.
Who is it infecting?
These are paediatric cases of acute hepatitis. According to the WHO, the age range of the patients identified so far has been between one-month-old babies to 16-year-old teens.
According to the (UK Health Security Agency) UK-HSA, the cases identified in the UK have been predominantly children below 5 years of age.
Which countries has it been detected in?
So far the UK, Canada, Northern Ireland, Spain, Israel, Japan,Indonasia, the US, Denmark, Ireland, The Netherlands, Italy, Norway, France, Romania, and Belgium have reported cases of acute hepatitis among children in the past few weeks.
The US CDC and the UK-HSA have issued alerts in their respective countries to health workers to keep track of incoming cases of severe hepatitis in children.
How many cases have been detected so far?
According to the WHO, so far around 200 cases have been identified. The real number may be higher.
The UK-HSA has recorded over 100 cases in the UK alone.
How serious are these cases?
Around 10 percent of the patients identified by the WHO required liver transplants.
The UK Health Security Agency on Saturday, 30 April, said that 10 of the 145 patients with unexplained acute hepatitis in the UK required liver transplants.
As per latest reports, 3 children in Indonasia have died of the disease.
Can COVID Also Cause Hepatitis?
Why are these cases 'mysterious'?
This sudden rise in cases of acute hepatitis among kids is throwing off health officials across the world. For one, none of the viruses that usually cause hepatitis including hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E have been detected in these kids.
Moreover, many of these kids were also found to have adenoviral infections (flu and cold).
What is causing this?
The cause of the sudden rise in acute hepatitis among kids is unknown.
However, early findings suggest a possible link to the adenovirus detected in some patient.
Considering these aren't symptoms typically associated with common cold adenovirus, experts at the UK Health Security Agency said that they are also exploring other possible causes such as COVID-19 and other environmental factors.
Have any cases been reported in India?
No, there has been no reports of similar unexplained acute hepatitis in children in India so far.
What are the early signs and symptoms of acute hepatitis?
According to the UK-HSA, most of these kids experienced gastrointestinal issues first, followed by an onset of jaundice.
Some common symptoms to watch out for are abdominal pain, diarrhoea and vomiting. The child could also develop jaundice since the liver is involved.
Fatigue, loss of appetite, joint pain, and dark urine are some other symptoms.
Lab tests can confirm the diagnosis if you have any of these symptoms.
Is there a cure for hepatitis?
No, there is no cure for haptitis. Treatment generally involves managing symptoms, and keeping the damage to the liver from worsening.
Is there a vaccine for hepatitis?
Vaccines are available for hepatitis A and B, but not the other kinds.