Cases of childhood hepatitis of unknown origin detected in five European countries

The pediatric department of the Poitiers hospital (photo illustration). AFP / GUILLAUME SOUVANT Cases of hepatitis affecting children – whose origin is unknown and which had already been identified in the United Kingdom – have been detected in four other European countries, announced on Tuesday April 19, the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). “Following the cases of acute hepatitis of unknown origin reported by the UK Health Security Agency [au début d’avril], other cases in children have been reported in Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands and Spain,” the agency said in a statement. Nine suspected cases have also been identified in children aged 1 to 6 in Alabama, 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.” Read also: Article reserved for our subscribers Nestlé’s discretion in the face of the scandal of sick children for having consumed contaminated pizzas Not an “excess of cases in France” In France, after the launch of an “active search for cases”, “Two cases of acute hepatitis whose etiology is still undetermined have been reported by the Lyon University Hospital” in children under 10 years old and “are under investigation”, said the Public Health Agency France, interviewed by Agence France-Presse (AFP). “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” given the active search that has been launched. Read also Article reserved for our subscribers Covid-19: cases of infantile inflammatory syndrome are increasing, but seem less severe 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 AFP, the ECDC was unable to give the number of cases by country. No deaths, signs of jaundice in UK No deaths have been reported, but some UK 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. Initially, the United Kingdom had reported to the WHO, on April 5, ten cases of severe hepatitis in Scotland, before reporting a total of seventy-four, three days later, according to the UN organization. Among the British cases, “many (…) showed signs of jaundice”. Read also: Article reserved for our subscribers Public health: “Prevention, very devastated, needs expertise, actors and funding” “Some of the cases presented gastrointestinal symptoms, including abdominal pain, diarrhea and vomiting in the previous weeks,” according to the ECDC. The World with AFP