The mysterious liver disease which has affected nearly 200 children has made its way to Asia, with Japan reporting a case in a four-year-old child.
The World Health Organization, on Saturday, announced that at least 196 children in 12 countries had been infected with acute hepatitis.
According to the WHO, at least one fatality tied to this mysterious increase in hepatitis in young kids has been recorded in the world so far.
According to the WHO, cases have been reported in the UK, Canada, Northern Ireland, Spain, Israel, Japan, the US, Denmark, Ireland, The Netherlands, Italy, Norway, France, Romania, and Belgium.
The origin and cause of the sudden uptick in acute hepatitis among kids is unknown. Curiously, none of the usual suspects that cause acute viral hepatitis, hepatitis viruses A, B, C, D and E, were detected in these kids.
Patients range from as young as one-month-old babies to 16-year-olds. Of the 196 recorded cases, 17 needed liver transplants.
According to the WHO's report, many of the recorded cases were found to also have adenovirus infections (like cold and flu) prompting health authorities to suspect a new strain of hepatitis virus.
In their official statement, the WHO said that they're monitoring the situation, and that it isn't clear yet if what we are seeing is an actual spike in cases, or better reporting of cases that is bringing forth incidents of disease that would have otherwise gone undetected.
Health officials in Europe and the US have been alerted to keep a watch on incoming cases of paediatric hepatitis.
Acute Hepatitis in Kids: What to Know
Acute hepatitis is caused by an inflammation in the liver. According to the WHO, it is marked by elevated levels of liver enzymes.
Signs of hepatitis can include gastrointestinal symptoms like,
Diarrhoea and vomiting
Fever (in rare cases)
The UK Health Security Agency has proposed that one possible cause for these cases may be a lack of exposure to the common adenovirus which is responsible for an upset stomach or and a cold – during the COVID-19 pandemic.
40 out of 53 cases tested in the UK showed signs of an adenovirus infection.
How is Acute Hepatitis Treated?
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, there is no cure for hepatitis once it occurs, and treatment focuses on systemic relief and protecting the liver from further damage.
Acute hepatitis in children, in most cases, can resolve itself over time with proper care.
Vaccinating babies against hepatitis A and B is encouraged to prevent infection altogether. There is no vaccine available for hepatitis C, D, and E.