In January 2022, Physicians in Scotland have noticed a worrying trend: the spread of severe hepatitis in children between the ages of 1 and 5. The children presented with gastrointestinal symptoms – abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting – followed by jaundice. It was very unusual to see this type of acute hepatitis (a broad term that basically describes inflammation of the liver) in young, previously healthy children এবং and cause for concern.
By 5 April, the Scottish Health Authority had recorded 11 cases. Unable to identify their cause, they have notified the World Health Organization, launching a global investigation that is seeking answers from health authorities.
Cases were immediately picked up in Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Ireland, Romania and Spain, as well as in Israel and the United States. On 12 April, the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control instructed its hepatitis network to monitor further cases that matched the description. Since then the number of cases has been increasing. The UK now has a total of 114 cases, requiring 10 children to have a liver transplant. In all, at least 190 cases were logged in at least 120 countries. One child has died.
However, experts are still not sure what is responsible in this case.
Hepatitis can be caused by exposure to a poison or drug (for example, an overdose of paracetamol can cause liver damage). But toxicology screenings did not show anything that seemed like a possible explanation.
So what could be responsible for the viral infection? Acute forms of viral hepatitis are usually caused by infection with one of the five hepatitis viruses: A, B, C, D, and E. It is not uncommon to see cases of hepatitis after infection with one of these viruses কিন্তু but in children, it usually occurs when they are immunosuppressed. Connor Bamford, a virologist at Queen's University Belfast, said: “The unusual thing is that this happens so often, in such a short period of time, usually in good kids.” However, the hepatitis virus has not been detected in any child, and so it can be ruled out.
But a simple viral suspect came up in the test: adenovirus. This family of common viruses is one of the leading causes of the common cold and cough and has been tested positive for one in three-quarters of British children who have become ill. In particular, adenovirus F41 has been isolated, multiple blood tests have been identified, although other adenoviruses have also been identified. “The strongest evidence is the adenovirus, because it's just one of the most consistent things they've seen,” Bamford said.
But what is not adding is that an adenovirus infection is usually quite mild. Although adenoviruses can cause hepatitis in rare cases, this is not something they are known for. One theory is that there may be a mutation in the adenovirus, which may explain why the reactions are more severe than usual.
There is further speculation: “It's actually the same virus that we've always had, but because of the lockdown and the reduced interaction between humans, the spread of the virus was less,” Bamford said. The idea is that children are less likely to develop immunity by mixing germs with each other on the playground as a result of less exposure to the virus in general throughout the epidemic – which means more serious illnesses when they finally come in contact. . However, Some evidence from the UK Suggests that adenoviruses never stopped circulating during the epidemic, so it's not clear how much less exposure children actually have.