How a rare and mysterious liver disease in children can be linked to COVID-19

How a rare and mysterious liver disease in children can be linked to COVID-19

There have been at least 10 confirmed cases of acute hepatitis in Canada, one of which was in Quebec.

Health officials are exploring why hundreds of children around the world — including some in Canada — have mysterious liver damage.

There have been at least 10 confirmed cases of severe acute hepatitis in Canada. One of those was in Quebec.

More than 20 countries have reported cases, with the largest numbers coming from the United Kingdom and the United States

A few cases have been fatal.

And there seem to be more questions than answers about the disease, which the Montreal pediatric infectious disease specialist describes as a “relatively rare event”.

Dr. Jesse Papenburg of the Montreal Children’s Hospital monitors the prevalence of severe acute hepatitis in children.

“First, it is important to understand that all of these children were investigated for the usual suspects of hepatitis,” Babenberg said. “So hepatitis A, B, C and E, and the negative results came. There are other viruses that can cause hepatitis sometimes, and so far we have not seen these viruses associated with these cases.”

Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver. Depending on the cause, Public Health Canada says the disease can be sudden and progress to liver failure over a period of a few days to weeks.

Since April, the World Health Organization (WHO) has reported an increase in the disease.

Possible culprit: adenovirus 41

The cause of acute hepatitis is currently unknown, but several hypotheses are being explored. One such virus is Adenovirus 41, a common stomach bug that causes cold, flu, or gastroenteritis.

More than half of the cases in the United States, for example, have tested positive for adenovirus, of which there are dozens of types. In a small number of samples tested for the type of adenovirus present, adenovirus 41 appeared each time.

Many adenoviruses are associated with common cold symptoms, such as fever, sore throat, and pink eye. Some versions — including Adenovirus 41 — can cause other problems, including gastroenteritis.

Adenoviruses have previously been linked to hepatitis in children, but mostly in children with weakened immune systems.

Papenburg says symptoms of acute hepatitis in children can be extensive.

“Loss of appetite can be accompanied by some fever, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea which is often associated with it as well,” he said. But worrying signs will be if you notice signs of jaundice, ie yellowing of the skin, yellowing of the whites of the eyes, dark-colored urine and pale stools accompanied by lethargy and poor performance in general.

“These are warning signs that require medical attention.”

Can hepatitis and COVID-19 be linked?

According to the World Health Organization, the side effects of COVID-19 vaccines are not suspected because most infected children were very young and had not been vaccinated.

However, COVID-19 itself may be behind the disease, according to a report by medRxiv.

The report notes that children are at increased risk of developing liver dysfunction after contracting COVID.

Health officials say only 10-15 percent of children with occult hepatitis have COVID-19, according to nasal swab tests taken when they are hospitalized.

But investigators are questioning past infections with the coronavirus: if particles lurking in the gut somehow play a role.

Experts say, although it is only a hypothesis, precautions such as wearing a mask should be taken.

said Dr. Donald Finh, an infectious disease specialist with McGill University Health Center. “She puts the pieces together and says maybe the masks should be kept in place, at least in indoor activities, including schools. And that is my concern.”

Of the at least 10 cases in Canada, three have been reported in Alberta, two in Manitoba, four in Ontario and one in Quebec.

The ages of the children range from 1 to 13 years. Each person was hospitalized, and two of them needed a liver transplant.

As of May 20, the CDC has confirmed six deaths related to acute hepatitis.

No deaths have been confirmed in Canada.

“Right now, we’re really at a point where public health officials around the world are trying to collect as much data as possible, in a systematic way as possible, to try to figure out what it might be, and the possible causes,” Dr. Babenberg said.

2022-05-24 16:16:37

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