Cases of child hepatitis reach 169 globally, including one death and 17 needing liver transplants 

The United States has now recorded 11 cases of unexplained hepatitis in children, as the global toll hits 169 and the first death is registered — with some doctors warning Covid infections could be behind the illnesses.

North Carolina has detected two cases in school-age children, on top of the nine spotted among children under six in Alabama since October. Health officials say both have recovered, and did not need liver transplants.

In Britain — which was first to detect the outbreak — another two children have transplants, health officials revealed today, bringing the country’s total to 10. It has spotted 114 children with the peculiar disease, with experts warning the case count could be just the ‘tip of the iceberg’.

Although many scientists say adenoviruses — which can cause the common cold — are behind the outbreak, some suggest a previous Covid infection followed by catching an adenovirus, or being infected with both viruses at the same time, may be triggering the unexplained illness. A new Covid variant also was suggested.

Dr Muge Cevik, an infectious diseases expert at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, said today on Twitter that ‘acute severe hepatitis has not been a common feature of Covid in children, so it’s less likely to explain this presentation’.

‘(But) the general consensus is that it’s less likely for adenoviruses to cause acute severe (hepatitis) in healthy children, so need to continue investigating other causes.’

In Israel, 11 of the 12 sick children tested positive for the Covid over the last year. In Britain, scientists still are investigating Covid as a possible cause after finding it was the second most common infection patients test positive for, behind adenovirus which can trigger the common cold.

A total of 20 hepatitis patients have tested positive for Covid globally, and another 19 were found to be infected with both an adenovirus and Covid. Adenoviruses have been detected in 74 of the hepatitis cases. Neither child who developed hepatitis in North Carolina was infected with the adenovirus.

Other possible causes of the illness include a lack of immunity to adenoviruses, possibly due to lockdowns, and mutations in adenoviruses or Covid raising the risk of an infection triggering hepatitis.

The World Health Organization (WHO) today reported the ‘acute hepatitis of unknown origin’ had been detected among children aged one month to 16, and led to the majority of patients being hospitalized and 17 liver transplants.

Twelve countries have spotted the illness, with cases also detected in Spain, Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands, Italy, France, Norway, Romania and Belgium. A probable case was also reported in Japan today.

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

Read More Here