WHO investigates the possibility that COVID-19 is linked to mysterious hepatitis
The WHO says the leading hypothesis remains the role of adenovirus.
Hepatitis cases have been reported in 20 countries, while 70 cases from 13 countries are awaiting testing.
To date, only six countries have reported more than five cases, but in the UK alone there are more than 160 cases.
Philippa Easterbrook, an expert with the WHO’s global hepatitis programme, said Britain was coordinating a series of studies to determine the genetics of babies with the disease. On April 5, WHO received the first report of unexplained hepatitis in children under 10 years of age in Scotland.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it was investigating 109 similar cases, including 5 deaths.
For now, the leading hypothesis is still related to adenovirus, but scientists are still studying the role of COVID-19, in terms of co-infection or co-infection, Ms. Easterbrook said.
Tests over the past week confirmed about 70% of cases were positive for adenovirus, specifically subtype 41 – associated with gastroenteritis.
Tests also showed about 18 cases were positive for COVID-19.
“The focus next week will be on looking at serological tests to find patients who have been exposed to and infected with COVID,” Ms. Easterbrook said.
The scientist also said that within the next week, data from the UK on a case-control study are needed to determine if the detection rate of adenovirus differs from that in hospitalized children.
“That helps determine whether the adenoid is a randomly discovered infection or a cause-and-effect relationship,” Ms. Easterbrook said.
Adenovirus is usually spread by contact, respiratory droplets, and surfaces. These viruses often cause respiratory diseases, conjunctivitis or digestive disorders.
WHO calls the current outbreak acute hepatitis of unknown etiology in young children. 3 children in Indonesia have died from this disease. Some have liver failure and need a transplant. Many other children have jaundice or gastrointestinal symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, and vomiting.
WHO said it did not find common hepatitis viruses such as A, B, C, D and E in 169 recovered cases.
According to AP
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