The first case of mysterious hepatitis, which affects children, was reported in Belgium, the World Health Organization said on Saturday night. Further cases are expected.
The first case of mysterious childhood hepatitis was reported in Belgium. The WHO (World Health Organization) confirms this, and Sciensano expects more in the coming weeks. “This is a case of acute liver disease in a child, which is similar to the cases observed in the United Kingdom,” explained virologist Steven Van Gucht. Indeed, last week the WHO announced the launch of an investigation into dozens of cases of severe childhood hepatitis of unknown origin, which first occurred in the United Kingdom and Spain, before further cases occurred in Denmark, the Netherlands and Spain. In the state of Alabama in the United States of America, nine cases have been reported in children aged 1 to 6 years. All tested positive for adenovirus.
No deaths and classic symptoms of hepatitis
No deaths have been reported, but some British cases have required liver transplants. Some cases reported gastrointestinal symptoms, including abdominal pain, diarrhea and vomiting in previous weeks. “Sometimes great fatigue and jaundice are observed,” explains Marc Hainaut, head of the clinic at CHU Saint-Pierre in Brussels. These are the classic symptoms of hepatitis.
Further cases are expected in Belgium
The Institute of Hygiene expects further cases. “We do not know if there is a common cause. Adenovirus has been found in the stool, but it can also be a coincidence. Adenovirus is very common in children. We have asked doctors to report other possible cases. It is very likely that there will be several more in the coming weeks. This is in line with our expectations, “commented the virologist on Saturday night.
The cause of this mysterious liver disease is still unknown, Van Gucht added. “We also don’t know if there’s a common cause, let alone a virus. We’re still in the research phase.”
There have been 169 cases worldwide, most of them in the United Kingdom (114). All patients are aged from 1 month to 16 years.