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Hepatitis Outbreak in Children: What is Behind this Disease?

Around the World Alarms have been raised in the Face of an Outbreak of Hepatitis in Children. We tell you what are the Possible Causes and the Care you should Take to pPrevent it.

Woman touching the forehead of a girl lying on a bed

Photo: Freepik

LatinAmerican Post | Vanesa López Romero

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Leer en español: Brote de hepatitis en niños: ¿qué hay detrás de esta enfermedad?

For a few weeks now, cases of hepatitis in children around the world have been on the rise. According to data from the World Health Organization (WHO), there are more than 200 cases throughout 11 countries. The outbreak began in the United Kingdom and that is where the most cases have occurred so far (114). Also, almost all cases have occurred in Europe, the rest in the United States and Israel. The WHO also reported that of the total number of children affected, 17 have had to undergo a liver transplant. All this has led the organization to classify this event as an outbreak of hepatitis in children.

What would be the reason behind the outbreak?

In the first instance, it is important to clarify that although there has been talk that the outbreak is directly related to the COVID-19 vaccine, the WHO stated that most children with the disease have not been vaccinated, so that the application of the vaccine would not be the cause of the disease.

However, although the outbreak is not related to the COVID-19 vaccine, it could be a secondary consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic. Last Friday, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published medical details of patients who have been treated in this country, and it was found that all children have the presence of an adenovirus in common. Adenoviruses are a family of viruses that are characterized by their high contagion rate, which are present from early childhood and develop throughout the first years of a child's life while their immune system develops a cure. The viruses that children usually get are not very serious or deadly if they are treated properly.

Also read: World Immunization Week: 140 million People will be Vaccinated in the Americas

But with the COVID-19 pandemic, the ecosystem in which children develop has changed abruptly, largely because during the last two years they have not been exposed to factors that allow the natural mechanism of immunity to be activated correctly, so they are more likely to attack strongly by adenoviruses and take even longer for the immune system to develop a cure.

Although this theory is possible, there is still time to discover the exact cause.

Acute hepatitis symptoms in children and care

Among the first symptoms that are visible in children with childhood hepatitis we find:

  • Tiredness.
  • Fever.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomit.
  • Diarrhea and/or constipation.

Also, the more specific symptoms are:

  • Jaundice (yellow discoloration of skin and mucous membranes).
  • Dark urine.
  • Stools with little color.

This is a disease that is transmitted by the fecal-oral route, that is, through contaminated water or food. In this order of ideas, constant hand washing and hygiene of surfaces that can be touched by children are essential in care. Likewise, it is recommended to be careful with the food that is fed, that is, to have good hygiene. The use of the mask when coughing is also important.