The World Health Organization (WHO) is monitoring an outbreak of hepatitis of unknown origin, which is affecting children between 1 month and 16 years of age. So far, cases have been reported in 11 countries, the one with the most cases being the United Kingdom (114). At the moment, in America, cases have only been recorded in the United States. But health agents believe that these figures may be changing every hour.
At the end of April, about 170 cases had already been registered in the world, and in 10% of them the disease was so severe that a liver transplant was required.
Scientists have detected the presence of adenovirus in many cases, which is why they suspect that it may be the source of the outbreak. These viruses are characterized by the fact that they circulate widely and can cause a wide range of illnesses, from the common cold to acute gastroenteritis.
In this outbreak, many of the affected babies, children and adolescents carried one particular adenovirus: type 41, which usually causes respiratory or gastrointestinal symptoms, but never severe hepatitis.
The symptoms of hepatitis are varied and often overlap with the symptoms of other conditions. They may not all show up at the same time. Among them, the most common are: Fever, Fatigue, Muscle and joint pain, Nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, Loss of appetite, Discomfort in the upper abdomen, Dark urine, Jaundice or yellowish skin (this symptom reveals inflammation in the liver, although this organ can be inflamed without the patient presenting jaundice).
In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have recorded cases in at least 10 states: Alabama, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Wisconsin. .
The CDC said that in all cases, the children are healthy, with no significant pre-existing condition or poor immune systems. The federal health entity issued a national alert for care systems to identify and report these unusual cases of hepatitis. CDC epidemiologists are working with the Alabama Department of Health, since a group of nine cases of this type of hepatitis has been registered in that state.
The virus is transmitted very easily from person to person, through droplets that spread through the environment, or by touching a surface where the virus landed, which would partly explain the cases in different parts of the world and the forecast of there will be more cases.
The main measure is prevention and trying not to spread it, and parents can help by asking their children to wash their hands frequently and avoid touching their face and mouth, the same measures that help prevent infection with so many other viruses, like the coronavirus.
It is essential to consult with the pediatrician or family doctor, who will be able to carry out the necessary tests to determine if the minor has developed this type of virus.