Children in the UK, Denmark, Spain, the Netherlands, and the United States have all come down with inflammation of the liver or hepatitis. Symptoms of hepatitis or inflammation of the liver include yellow eyes, yellow skin, abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. All of their children are younger than the age of 10 years old. And all of the children in the UK have been tested for the hepatitis virus A, B, C, and E. There is no record of international travel for the children involved. Some of the children have had symptoms since January. When the children were tested their liver enzymes were elevated. Many of the children required hospitalization and eight children have had to have liver transplants according to the World Health Organization. Thankfully no deaths have been reported as of yet.
Testing for viruses has shown that the children have had COVID-19 in some of them, in others they had adenovirus infection and in some there was evidence of both viruses. Nine children in Alabama have been reported to have acute hepatitis. A dental virus 41 was found in all of these children. The CDC has been apprised of the situation. the centers for disease control is developing a National Health advisory which will go out to all 50 states alerting those health departments of the problem and requesting that any suspicious cases be reported back to the Centers for Disease control. The CDC and The WHO are both expecting an increase in the number of cases moving forward.
Some Scottish investigators believe that perhaps the illnesses are more severe because it’s infecting children who have been sheltered throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s unknown whether the children have had prior COVID-19 infections or not. None of the children in Scotland who had hepatitis were vaccinated for COVID-19. All other reports had no mention of vaccination for COVID-19.
Adenovirus commonly causes upper respiratory issues and pink eye that transmits easily. It can also present as a bladder infection or neurological issues. Adenovirus type 41 typically causes gastroenteritis in children younger than two years of age. It can also cause inflammation of the stomach and intestine. This is typically a cause of diarrhea in low and middle income countries, second only to rotavirus. It does cause frequent hospitalizations to children under two years of age in these countries. The only treatment that is available is supportive treatment such as intravenous fluids and rehydration solutions.
It isn’t known if the adenovirus is the cause of the elevated liver enzymes and hepatitis in these children. However, it does appear to be pointing in that direction. It is also unknown whether or not COVID-19 infections play a part in these hepatitis infections. So far the only thing that stands out above everything else is how severe this hepatitis infection is to children.
To control the spread authorities are suggesting normal hygiene measures be taken with strict compliance. Good hand washing technique for adults and children is suggested to reduce the spread of any infections. Parents should be aware of any signs of hepatitis including jaundice and contact their child’s pediatrician immediately if any signs appear.