CDC issues global alert after outbreak of mystery liver disease among dozens of kids in US and UK

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a nationwide alert on Thursday warning medical personnel to be on the lookout for dangerous hepatitis symptoms in children following unexplained outbreaks in the United States and the United Kingdom that have, in some cases, resulted in liver transplants.

Dozens of young children have come down with severe liver inflammation. Mysteriously, they did not have hepatitis A, B, or C which usually causes it. Health professionals seem to be at a loss as the children do not reportedly have causative links in connection to the ailment.

The CDC is working with others in Europe trying to figure out what is going on and exactly what is the cause of the infections. They have asked doctors to report any potential cases to their state and local health departments as they fear they will spread.

A number of the children in Europe have one thing in common… a cold virus known as an adenovirus. But not all those who have contracted hepatitis have the virus.

Some doctors in the UK believe that weakened immune systems resulting from being locked down during the pandemic may be at the heart of the matter, according to the Daily Mail. But, it is unclear if there is any evidence supporting this theory.

A team led by Public Health Scotland epidemiologist Dr, Kimberly Marsh wrote in the journal Eurosurveillance that more children could be “immunologically naive” to the adenovirus strains because of pandemic restrictions.

“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,” they contended.

So far, the outbreak in the US is comprised of nine cases in Alabama. Health officials find that puzzling since lockdowns were reportedly not as stringent there. Children affected so far are between ages one and six. They came down with the disease between Oct. 2021 and Feb. 2022 and were diagnosed with significant liver injury, including acute liver failure. All were previously healthy and tested positive for adenovirus. Lab tests discovered that some of these children were infected with adenovirus type 41, which can cause acute infection of the digestive system. Two required liver transplants but no deaths have been reported.

UK health authorities announced on Thursday that they have identified a stunning 108 cases of pediatric hepatitis. Some cases were so severe that the children had to undergo liver transplants to save their lives as well.

Other cases have now popped up in Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands, and Spain, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

Doctors are being advised to test for adenovirus. Symptoms of hepatitis include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, light-colored stools, joint pain, and jaundice.

Scotland was the first to sound the alarm over the strange hepatitis cases in children on April 6. That country has had 14 cases identified, according to Reuters.

Researchers are now asserting that an adenovirus infection may be the culprit “in concert” with another virus. Seventy-seven percent of the children in the UK reportedly tested positive for adenovirus, Public Health Scotland director Jim McMenamin told Reuters. They are also looking at toxin exposure, COVID, or a novel pathogen, either in tandem with adenovirus infection, or alone.

“This is still a very low number of cases, but they are children, that is the main concern, and the other thing is the severity,” Maria Buti, a hepatology professor from Barcelona and chair of the European Association of the Study of the Liver’s public health committee, also told Reuters.

So far, none of the infections have been tied to the COVID vaccine or attributed to mask-wearing.


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