Children in Europe and the US are mysteriously coming down with a strange liver disease

The source of the illness has yet to be identified.
Loukia Papadopoulos
Saline intravenous drip in a child patient's hand.Golfcuk/iStock

Nothing baffles people more than a disease that targets kids.

Children in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Spain, and the United States have been coming down with a mysterious liver disease that does not stem from hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E, the viruses that most commonly cause the illness, according to a statement by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E excluded

"On 5 April 2022, WHO was notified of 10 cases of severe acute hepatitis of unknown aetiology in children under the age of 10 years, across central Scotland. By 8 April, 74 cases had been identified in the United Kingdom. Hepatitis viruses (A, B, C, E, and D where applicable) have been excluded after laboratory testing while further investigations are ongoing to understand the aetiology of these cases. Given the increase in cases reported over the past one month and enhanced case search activities, more cases are likely to be reported in the coming days," warned the WHO.

Additionally, less than five cases were identified in Ireland, and three in Spain. State news then further reported that nine such similar cases were found in the U.S. 

The cases in the U.S. were all in Alabama. The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) 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.

Could it be COVID-19?

So what is happening? Scientists are venturing a guess that the pandemic had also 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 more threatening.

However, there is also some evidence that indicates that COVID-19 can cause liver damage and some of the affected children have tested positive for both the raging virus and Adenovirus 41. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Alabama authorities are now investigating further, as are the WHO and the doctors involved in the children's treatment. Will an answer be found soon enough?

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