An Irish child who was being treated in hospital for the acute form of hepatitis has died, according to the country’s health authorities. A second child received a liver transplant and is recovering.
Both cases are linked to a type of hepatitis of unknown origin that is being reported in various parts of the world.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are at least 348 probable cases of the disease in 20 countries.
The UK was the first country to report cases in early April. It was noteworthy the fact that acute hepatitis is not common in previously healthy children, as it had been happening.
Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver tissue and there are several different types of the disease, including hepatitis A, B, C, D and E. However, this acute form of hepatitis is of unknown origin as no cases have tested positive so far. for the typical disease viruses.
What is the possible explanation for the outbreak?
The strongest hypothesis so far is that the cases could be linked to adenovirus type 41, which is commonly associated with colds but which can also cause pneumonia, diarrhea and conjunctivitis.
This virus, according to the WHO, has been detected in at least 74 children with the disease. But there are many other lines of investigation, including coronavirus infection, that have not been ruled out. See other theories for the hepatitis outbreak here.
Most children with the disease are under the age of five. Early symptoms usually include diarrhea followed by jaundice.
Another important symptom of acute hepatitis is severe pain when the abdomen is touched. This tenderness is felt in the upper right, which is where the liver is located.
According to the UK Health Safety Agency (UKHSA), the most common liver inflammation symptoms seen in children so far have been:
Pale stools (50%)
Abdominal pain (42%)
Lethargy (tiredness) (50%)
Respiratory symptoms (19%)