At least one child has died from acute hepatitis case: WHO

169 cases have been reported in children in 11 countries.
Loukia Papadopoulos
Mother holding the hand of a child lying in the hospital.gorodenkoff/iStock

Last week, we reported that children in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Spain, and the United States were coming down with a mysterious liver disease that did not stem from hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E, the viruses that most commonly cause the illness.

A worsening situation

Now, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Saturday that at least one child has died from the acute hepatitis of unknown origin and that at least 169 cases have now been reported in as many as 11 countries.

The cases have been reported in the United Kingdom, the United States, Spain, Israel, Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands, Italy, Norway, France, Romania, and Belgium, with a predominant 114 of the 169 cases being in the United Kingdom alone.

The children affected were aged from one month to 16 years old, with 17 reported undergoing liver transplantation due to the illness. No details were given on the one death.

Last week, the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH), which reported nine cases of the mysterious illness, had cited a possible association of this alarming hepatitis with Adenovirus 41, a respiratory illness that normally causes a mere cold. The WHO further confirmed that Adenovirus 41 could be involved in the cases.

Adenovirus infections?

Now, the WHO has said that Adenovirus 41 has been detected in at least 74 of the hepatitis cases, while COVID-19 infections have been identified in 20 of those tested. Furthermore, 19 cases were reported with children suffering from both a COVID-19 and Adenovirus 41 co-infection.

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Previously scientists speculated that the new and alarming disease might be showing up as a result of the pandemic coming to an end. The pandemic had curbed many other diseases because it isolated people.

Now that the world is opening up again, we could be seeing a resurfacing of other diseases that have up to now remained dormant. These diseases may have further mutated to become even more threatening.

The WHO has said it is now working closely with British health authorities, other member states, and partners to try and curb this mysterious and devastating new condition.

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