UHepatitis of unknown origin affecting children, first identified in the United Kingdom, has been detected in four other European countries, the European Center for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC) announced on Tuesday. “Following the reported cases of acute hepatitis of unknown origin by the UK Health Security Agency” in early April, “additional cases in children have been reported in Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands and Spain “, indicates the European agency in a press release. Nine suspected cases have also been identified in children aged 1 to 6 in Alabama in the United States, according to the ECDC.
“Investigations are continuing in all countries reporting cases. Currently, the exact cause of hepatitis remains unknown,” writes the ECDC, but British investigators “consider an infectious cause to be the most likely due to the clinical and epidemiological characteristics of the cases.” In France, after the launch of an “active search for cases”, “two cases of acute hepatitis whose etiology is still undetermined were reported by the University Hospital of Lyon” in children under 10 years of age and “are under investigation, “said the Public Health France agency, questioned by Agence France Presse. “Cases of acute hepatitis of undetermined etiology in children are not uncommon. The occurrence of these two cases is not unexpected and does not testify, at this stage, to an excess of cases in France”, added the same source, judging “other reports probably to be expected in the next few days” saw the active search launched.
On Friday, the World Health Organization (WHO) said it expected new reports in the coming days and had already reported “less than five” cases in Ireland and three in Spain. Contacted by Agence France-Presse, the ECDC was unable to give the number of cases by country. No deaths have been recorded but some British cases have required liver transplantation. “Laboratory investigations of the cases excluded viral hepatitis types A, B, C, D and E in all cases,” according to the ECDC.
“Signs of Jaundice”
The United Kingdom initially reported 10 cases of severe hepatitis in Scotland to the WHO on April 5, before reporting a total of 74 three days later, according to the UN organization. Among the UK cases, “many cases showed signs of jaundice”. “Some of the cases were reporting gastrointestinal symptoms, including abdominal pain, diarrhea and vomiting in the previous weeks,” according to the ECDC.