Hepatitis death and six unexplained diagnoses in Ireland: what do we know about the mysterious cases in children?

The six unexplained cases of severe hepatitis diagnosed in Irish children – which resulted in one death and another requiring a liver transplant – are among 106 similar diagnoses in Europe and 450 worldwide.

Epatitis is inflammation of the liver tissue.

No firm theory has emerged for over two months as to what is triggering the cases, although public health officials in the UK in particular are intensely searching for possible causes.

Here’s what we know so far.

Irish cases

All of the probable cases here involve children between the ages of one and 12, and all have been hospitalized.

One child died and another received a liver transplant in the UK.

None of the Irish cases tested on admission to hospital had evidence of Covid-19 infection at the time. The majority of cases had not received a Covid-19 vaccination. The Irish cases are unlinked to UK cases, where 181 children were hit and none had recently traveled to the UK before developing symptoms.

The HSE said the common viruses that cause hepatitis viruses A, B, C and E were not detected in any of the cases.

“One area under investigation is whether hepatitis cases are associated with an increase in adenovirus infections, a common cause of childhood illness.”

Other possible causes, such as another infection – including Covid-19 – or something in the environment are also being investigated. It said that in Ireland, as in other countries, research is underway to determine whether current or previous Covid-19 infection could increase the risk of the disease in some children. There were 35 cases in Italy and 22 in Spain.

Causes are being investigated

One theory is that Covid-19 lockdowns may have weakened children’s immunity because they were exposed to less common pathogens in isolation, or that the virus is acting in tandem with another infection.

The UK Health Security Agency is leading the investigation into the cases and has been supplied with information from Ireland. It is said that the viruses that normally cause hepatitis (hepatitis virus AE) have not been found in the children affected by the recent increase in acute hepatitis, so public health teams are looking at all other possible causes.

One area under investigation is whether the hepatitis cases are linked to an increase in infections caused by adenovirus, a common cause of childhood illness.

In the last two years children have been mixing less due to the Covid-19 pandemic and because of this the number of common infections seen in children has been reduced.

Now that children are socializing normally, there is an increase in some infections, including adenovirus. Other possible causes are being investigated, e.g. B. another infection, including Covid-19, or something in the environment.

Some of the children with acute hepatitis had recent Covid-19 infection, but there was a high number of Covid-19 infections in this age group, so this is not unexpected.

There is no connection between these hepatitis cases and the Covid 19 vaccine. None of the cases there under the age of 10 have been vaccinated, according to the latest update.

Belfast-born Prof Martin Mckee, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said parents should be aware the cases are very rare. He said much is unknown, but there may be an abnormal immune response to previous infection.

families with pets

It emerged last week that health officials are investigating whether dogs could be linked to the cases, although that’s on the lower end of the scale when it comes to theories. Health officials said adenovirus, a usually mild viral infection that causes the common cold, remained the main theory.

But the report added that “a fair number” of affected children — 70 percent of the 93 respondents — either came from families with dogs or were otherwise “exposed” to pets before becoming ill.

“The significance of this finding is under investigation,” officials wrote. However, they noted that dog ownership is “common in the UK” and there is “limited data on background rates of pet ownership in families with young children”, making it difficult to assess the significance of the data.

Advice for parents on possible symptoms

Parents are advised to see their GP if their child develops symptoms of hepatitis. Symptoms of hepatitis can include:

  • pale gray colored stools
  • dark urine
  • yellowing of the eyes and skin (jaundice)

The most common symptom – found in more than 70 per cent of children in the UK – is jaundice, while vomiting and pale stools were also common. Look for a yellow cast in the whites of the eyes.

The HSE says if a child has any of these three symptoms they should contact their GP immediately.

The GP assesses the child and refers them for further assessment.

Other symptoms to look out for include muscle and joint pain, high temperature, nausea and vomiting, constant unusual tiredness, general malaise, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, and itchy skin.

If a child is unwell with respiratory or diarrhea or hepatitis symptoms, keep your child at home and do not send them to daycare/preschool/school until they are better.

You should also practice good respiratory hygiene. This includes covering your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing and washing your hands regularly.

https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/health/hepatitis-death-and-six-unexplained-diagnoses-in-ireland-what-do-we-know-about-the-mystery-cases-in-children-41643197.html Hepatitis death and six unexplained diagnoses in Ireland: what do we know about the mysterious cases in children?

Fry Electronics Team

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