https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-10748097/WHO-1-child-died-mystery-liver-disease-outbreak.html

One hepatitis-stricken child has DIED and 17 have needed liver transplants because of mysterious spate of cases first spotted in the UK, WHO says

  • 169 cases of ‘acute hepatitis of unknown origin’ have been recorded worldwide
  • The World Health Organization did not say which country the death occurred in 
  • At least 114 cases have been found in Britain and up to 11 were in the US 

One child has died and 17 have needed liver transplants because of the mysterious worldwide hepatitis outbreak.

World Health Organization (WHO) bosses have received reports of at least 169 cases of ‘acute hepatitis of unknown origin’ from 12 countries.

Cases were detected in children aged one month to 16, the majority of whom have been hospitalised.  

The WHO has not disclosed which country the only known death occurred in. 

The first hepatitis cases were recorded in Britain, where 114 children have now been sickened.

Thirteen cases have been detected in Spain, 12 in Israel and 11 in the US — including nine in Alabama and two in North Carolina.

The unusual illness has also been spotted in Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands, Italy, France, Norway, Romania and Belgium.

UK health officials have ruled out the Covid vaccine as a possible cause, with none of the British cases so far having been vaccinated because of their young age. None of the cases in the US were vaccinated either. 

Covid lockdowns may be behind the mysterious spate of hepatitis cases in children because they reduced social mixing and weakened their immunity, experts claim

The World Health Organization said it has received reports of at least 169 cases of ‘acute hepatitis of unknown origin’ from 12 countries as of Saturday 

WHAT COULD BE BEHIND THE HEPATITIS OUTBREAK? 

While experts believe adenovirus — a virus associated with many common colds — could be behind the spate of cases, the jury is out on what the exact cause of the outbreak is.

Co-infection

Experts say the cases may be linked to a virus commonly associated with colds, but further research is ongoing.

This, in combination with Covid infections, could be causing the spike in cases, some claim.

‘While adenovirus is a possible hypothesis, investigations are ongoing for the causative agent,’ WHO said, 

It noted that the virus has been detected in at least 74 of the cases. At least 20 of the children tested positive for the coronavirus.

Weakened immunity

British experts tasked with investigating the spate of illnesses believe the endless cycle of lockdowns may have played a contributing role.

Restrictions may have weakened children’s immunity, leaving them at heightened risk of adenovirus. 

Writing in the journal Eurosurveillance, the team — led by Public Health Scotland epidemiologist Dr Kimberly Marsh — said more children could be ‘immunologically naive’ to the virus because of restrictions.

They said: ‘The leading hypotheses centre around adenovirus — either a new variant with a distinct clinical syndrome or a routinely circulating variant that is more severely impacting younger children who are immunologically naive. 

‘The latter scenario may be the result of restricted social mixing during the pandemic.’

Adenovirus mutation

Other scientists said it may have been a virus that has acquired ‘unusual mutations’. 

A virology specialist at Imperial College London told The Telegraph it is ‘very unusual and rare’ for children to suffer severe hepatitis, especially to the extent that they require a liver transplant.

The expert, who wished to remain anonymous, said: ‘The number of cases is exceptional. 

‘It makes people think there is something unusual going on — such as a virus that has mutated or some other cause. It has sent alarm bells ringing.’

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The WHO said: ‘It is not yet clear if there has been an increase in hepatitis cases, or an increase in awareness of hepatitis cases that occur at the expected rate but go undetected.’

However, other scientists have suggested the amount of severe cases in children is unusual. 

Richard Pebody, who heads the high threats pathogen team at the WHO, told STAT News: ‘Although the numbers aren’t big, the consequences have been quite severe.

‘It’s important that countries look.’ 

None of the cases have been caused by any of the five typical strains of the virus — hepatitis A, B, C, D and E. 

Experts say the cases may be linked to a virus commonly associated with colds, known as an adenovirus, but that further research is ongoing.

‘While adenovirus is a possible hypothesis, investigations are ongoing for the causative agent,’ WHO said.

It noted that the cold-like virus has been detected in at least 74 of the cases — however not all children were tested.

And 19 of the patients also had a Covid co-infection. One more child had Covid but not the adenovirus. 

Experts are probing whether the cases are linked to the two viruses. 

British scientists have suggested that lockdowns may have played a contributing role, weakening children’s immunity and leaving them at heightened risk of adenovirus. 

Others said the cases may be the result of a virus that has acquired ‘unusual mutations’. 

Professor Graham Cooke, an expert in infectious diseases at Imperial College London, said it is unlikely Covid was responsible.

He said: ‘Mild hepatitis is very common in children following a range of viral infections, but what is being seen at the moment is quite different. 

‘If the hepatitis was a result of Covid it would be surprising not to see it more widely distributed across the country given the high prevalence of (Covid) at the moment.’

A virology specialist at Imperial told The Telegraph it is ‘very unusual and rare’ for children to suffer severe hepatitis, especially to the extent that they require a liver transplant.

The expert, who wished to remain anonymous, said: ‘The number of cases is exceptional. 

‘It makes people think there is something unusual going on — such as a virus that has mutated or some other cause. It has sent alarm bells ringing.’

Hepatitis often has no noticeable symptoms — but they can include dark urine, pale grey-coloured faeces, itchy skin and the yellowing of the eyes and skin.

Infected people can also suffer muscle and joint pain, a high temperature, feeling and being sick and being unusually tired all of the time. 

When hepatitis is spread by a virus, it’s usually caused by consuming food and drink contaminated with the faeces of an infected person or blood-to-blood or sexual contact.

Q&A: What is the mysterious global hepatitis outbreak and what is behind it? 

What do we know about the global hepatitis outbreak?

Scientists have been left puzzled by a global outbreak of hepatitis that has caused one death and 17 liver transplants.

The inflammatory liver condition has been spotted in at least 169 children aged between one month and 16 years old.

None of the cases have been caused by  any of the five typical strains of the virus — hepatitis A, B, C, D and E.

What is hepatitis?

Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver that is usually caused by a viral infection or liver damage from drinking alcohol. 

Hepatitis often has no noticeable symptoms — but they can include dark urine, pale grey-coloured faeces, itchy skin and the yellowing of the eyes and skin.

Infected people can also suffer muscle and joint pain, a high temperature, feeling and being sick and being unusually tired all of the time. 

When hepatitis is spread by a virus, it’s usually caused by consuming food and drink contaminated with the faeces of an infected person or blood-to-blood or sexual contact.

How many countries have cases been recorded in?

UK

Spain

Israel 

US

Denmark

Ireland 

The Netherlands 

Italy 

France 

Norway 

Romania 

Belgium

114 

13 

12 

11 

Six

Fewer than five

Four

Four

Two

Two

One

One

Do we know what is behind the outbreak? 

Co-infection

Experts say the cases may be linked to a virus commonly associated with colds, but further research is ongoing.

This, in combination with Covid infections, could be causing the spike in cases. 

‘While adenovirus is a possible hypothesis, investigations are ongoing for the causative agent,’ WHO said, 

It noted that the virus has been detected in at least 74 of the cases. At least 20 of the children tested positive for the coronavirus.

Weakened immunity

British experts tasked with investigating the spate of illnesses believe the endless cycle of lockdowns may have played a contributing role.

Restrictions may have weakened children’s immunity, leaving them at heightened risk of adenovirus. 

Writing in the journal Eurosurveillance, the team — led by Public Health Scotland epidemiologist Dr Kimberly Marsh — said more children could be ‘immunologically naive’ to the virus because of restrictions.

They said: ‘The leading hypotheses centre around adenovirus — either a new variant with a distinct clinical syndrome or a routinely circulating variant that is more severely impacting younger children who are immunologically naive. 

‘The latter scenario may be the result of restricted social mixing during the pandemic.’

Adenovirus mutation

Other scientists said it may have been a virus that has acquired ‘unusual mutations’. 

A virology specialist at Imperial College London told The Telegraph it is ‘very unusual and rare’ for children to suffer severe hepatitis, especially to the extent that they require a liver transplant.

The expert, who wished to remain anonymous, said: ‘The number of cases is exceptional. 

‘It makes people think there is something unusual going on — such as a virus that has mutated or some other cause. It has sent alarm bells ringing.’

Other theories 

The UKHSA has noted Covid as well as other infections and environmental triggers are still being probed as possible causes of the illnesses.

The agency ruled out the Covid vaccine as a possible cause, with none of the British cases so far having been vaccinated because of their age.

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