With sudden spur in liver inflammation or acute hepatitis, that too, amongst children, British health officials are continuously on the toes. Prima facie, they are getting proofs of a common virus being responsible for this ailment.
As of now, 111 cases of hepatitis (source unknown) have been recorded by the U.K. Health Security Agency. Children aged 10 and below are reported to have been affected since January 2022. Out of these, 10 children did need liver transplants. As per the UN health agency, 169 cases of “acute hepatitis of origin not known” were reported, along with a fatality.
Adenovirus the Culprit?
Though the actual cause of illness isn’t clear, adenovirus is looked upon as a prime suspect, which was seen in almost 75% of confirmed cases, as per the same U.K. agency.
Adenovirus is getting circulated in children at greater than average levels, after getting dropped at unusually lower levels when the pandemic was at its peak. An avenue of enquiry that is being explored is that this outbreak might be linked with an upsurge in the common viral infections post lifting up of Covid-19 restrictions. In other words, children who weren’t exposed to adenovirus since the last two years could get infected in a harder way on getting exposed now.
Dr. Meera Chand (director of emerging and clinical infections at UKHSA) states that primary investigations increasingly suggest that an abrupt onset of hepatitis in kids is linked with being infected with adenovirus.
Chand did table the British data on Monday when European Congress of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases (Lisbon) had its emergency session. It was mentioned that usual viruses causing infectious liver inflammation, which includes hepatitis A to E, weren’t found in any of 111 cases that are being investigated all across the U.K., The symptoms, instead, included diarrhea, jaundice, and abdominal pain.
The basic function of liver is that of processing nutrients, filtering blood, and combating infections. Hepatitis, if taken casually, could prove to be dreadful. Moreover, the fact that there are hordes of adenoviruses that could be associated with common cold-like symptoms, sore throat, fever, and pink eye.
The US authorities, earlier in April, admitted that they were into investigation of a group of hepatitis cases pertaining to 9 children in Alabama, which hadn’t given any known conclusions as of now.
Coming to Europe as a whole, 13 cases of above-mentioned hepatitis were detected in Spain, 21 in Denmark, the Netherlands, Ireland, Norway, Italy, Belgium, and Romania collectively.
The WHO stated that 19 children were reported to be affected with adenovirus and SARS-CoV-2 simultaneously.
Don’t take Hepatitis Casually!
The major problem with hepatitis is that the symptoms resemble that of common cold, but they are, by no means, to be taken lightly. Ignorance is not always blissful. Certain celebrities were victim of this negligence in the past. For instance – superstar Amitabh Bachchan, during blood transfusion, was injected blood of someone who was Hepatitis B +ve. As an outcome, he unknowingly got cirrhosis of liver, with only 25% of the liver functional in today’s scenario.
So, staying alert is the best course of action!