May 17, 2022 -- As a growing number of children are diagnosed with acute hepatitis, scientists are awaiting a study from the United Kingdom that may shed light on the cause of the mysterious outbreak.

Last week, the World Health Organization said 348 cases of child hepatitis had been identified in 20 nations, the Voice of America reported. The United Kingdom has reported more than 160 cases and the United States more than 100. About 70 other cases from 13 other nations have not been classified.

Adenovirus – DNA viruses that commonly infect the respiratory system – has been linked to most of the cases but has not been conclusively determined to be the cause. Scientists have not ruled out a connection to infection from another virus, COVID-19.

"At present, the leading hypotheses remain those which involve adenovirus — with also still an important consideration about the role of COVID as well, either as a co-infection or a past infection,” Philippa Easterbrook of the World Health Organization hepatitis program said recently at a WHO conference, according to Fox News .

Easterbrook said UK researchers are working on a case control study comparing whether the detection rate of adenovirus differs from that in other hospitalized children, reported.

"That will really help hone down whether adeno is just an incidental infection that's been detected or there is a causal or likely causal link," Easterbrook said.

WHO said the viruses that commonly cause viral hepatitis were not detected in the first 169 cases it investigated, VOA reported.

Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver and can be caused by infection, autoimmune disorders, or medication.

Adenoviruses are spread by respiratory droplets, close personal contact, and objects that people touch, but they are rarely associated with liver problems.

In the United States, five children have died from acute hepatitis, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on May 11.

The CDC updated its guidance for medical professionals on taking samples of blood, respiratory specimens, stool samples, and liver tissue. Etiology”

Show Sources

Voice of America: “WHO Studies Whether COVID-19 Has Role in Child Hepatitis Mystery”

 

Fox News: “Mysterious child hepatitis outbreak: UK study may identify a prime suspect”

 

CDC. “Updated Recommendations for Adenovirus Testing and Reporting of Children with Acute Hepatitis of Unknown

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