Cases of acute hepatitis in children are on the rise and global alert is on the rise. The severity of the conditions of the little ones frightens while the causes are still investigated.
Numbers swooping upwards cause concern. There are too many children suffering from severe hepatitis and undergoing a liver transplant and it is not known how to prevent the epidemic.
In a few weeks the situation has degenerated. We are located within a worldwide alert particularly felt given that to contract acute hepatitis they are children. In the UK, the cases have passed from 18 to 163 in seven days confirming the presence of an epidemic to be resolved as soon as possible. The scientific community is working to try to identify the causes of the disease and prevent the contagion curve from growing further. To date, twenty countries in the world have been affected for a total of 300 confirmed cases many of them in Europe – also in Italy. There are many questions to be answered and doubts, for now, do not seem to dissolve.
Acute hepatitis, what are the possible causes?
A growing phenomenon that is especially striking children under five causing serious health consequences. Eleven minors suffered a liver transplant and there are fears that the situation could worsen if the cause of the disease is not identified soon. A first hypothesis initially discarded but now re-evaluated conjecture a link with Covid. This could be a side effect not known to date due to restrictions imposed from the pandemic.
The greater protection of children prevented them from coming to contact with bacteria, viruses and germs – as typically occurs in that age group – able to stimulate the birth of antibodies. The immune system would thus be weakened and not trained to deal with external attacks. This hypothesis, if verified, could generate panic since hepatitis could only be a first consequence weakening of the immune system. Children could be easy victims of other diseases but the same principle could be reflected about adults.
Other possible causes
Covid is not the only cause analyzed by the scientific community. The investigations reported, for example, the presence of pets in contact with sick children. Dogs can be carriers of adenovirus, liver pathogen, but animal-to-human transmission is rare if not unlikely. Yet the presence of an adenovirus in small patient analyzes has been found numerous times. A percentage of 72% is estimated. Another hypothesis is correlation between acute hepatitis and paracetamol. The drug is harmless when used in small doses, as evidenced by the fact that it is widely used among children and pregnant women. Only excessive and continuous use could cause liver damage or a particular predisposition that in 300 cases would result, perhaps, a excessive coincidence.
How to recognize the symptoms of hepatitis
Regardless of the cause – still unknown by the way – special attention should be paid to the signs that suggest acute hepatitis. Detecting it in time can mean less severe consequences for young patients. Jaundiced skin (yellowish in color), vomiting, nausea, high fever e lack of appetite are the most common symptoms. Then there is associated pale stools and dark urine and a general feeling of fatigue.