20 probable cases of hepatitis of unknown origin in children in Italy, experts: No alarms

Acute hepatitis in children, what we know: the latest news

To date, about 20 cases of probable acute hepatitis of unknown origin in children have been registered in Italy. The main suspect is adenovirus F41.

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Acute hepatitis in children, what we know: the latest news

In recent months, about 300 children from twenty countries have been affected by a mysterious form of acute hepatitis, ainflammation of the liver which in some cases necessitated one transplantation and which unfortunately also caused some deaths. That The United Kingdom it is the country most affected by the wave of cases, with 163 hepatitis reported in children under the age of ten in the latest bulletin from the UK Heath Security Agency (UKHSA). In Italy, according to data reported by ADNKronos Health, there are currently around twenty probable cases out of fifty reports in previously healthy children. The figures, according to experts, are part of the annual calculation of hepatitis of unknown origin, and there is no reason to be worried, also because there has not been the increase that was feared in recent weeks. There was only a statistically significant increase in the UK, where it went from a few liver transplants a year to save children’s lives to eight. Despite the experts’ assurances, there is still a lot to understand about the person in charge.

The possible causes of hepatitis

As specified by UKHSA, suspect number one remains one adenovirus, the most frequently tested in samples from hospitalized children. It is a genus of pathogens that commonly affect children and usually cause symptoms similar to those of a coldalthough it can sometimes cause pneumonia and in people with immune deficiencies as well hepatitis. But hepatitis is certainly not a common complication in children who were healthy. So what could have made a virus that is usually “harmless” so pathogenic? According to experts, there are several possible scenarios; the first is that adenovirus infection may have been exacerbated by previous or concomitant exposure to SARS-CoV-2the virus responsible for Covid-19 pandemic. Simply put, the combined effect of the two viruses would have favored the onset of hepatitis. Secondly, it is believed that shutdown and prolonged use of masks and other anti-infective measures would not have trained immune system of children, who have thus become more susceptible to serious infections after reopening. Third, it is not excluded that an adenovirus may have developed mutations able to make it more aggressive and virulent. More far-reaching hypotheses have also been put forward, such as the transmission of one dog adenovirus (70 percent of infected infants have had contact with pets, as reported by the Telegraph) or completely out in the air, e.g. Vaccines against covid. In fact, experts point out that the vast majority of children with acute hepatitis are under 5 years of age and therefore have not received any vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. Also reported the possibility that it may be a brand new virus, but as indicated, adenovirus is still the main suspect.

Adenovirus F41

There are many adenoviruses, but scientists believe that the most likely one involved in this story may behuman adenovirus F41. In an interview with La Stampa, professor Giorgio Palù, President of the Italian Medicines Agency (AIFA) and Professor Emeritus of Virology at the University of Padua, stressed that this pathogen has already been linked to gastrointestinal forms. The most common symptoms of these hepatitis are jaundice (skin, sclera and mucous membranes tend to turn yellow) e He bowed, as specified by the UKHSA. They have also been notified abdominal pains And diarrhea, before the acute phase that required hospitalization. Even according to the professor Matteo Bassetti, director of the Infectious Diseases Clinic at the San Martino Polyclinic in Genoa, is the most likely suspect continuing adenovirus F41 or a concomitant infection of this with another pathogen, as evidenced by an interview with ADNKronos Salute. The scientist points out that we are not with emergency and that there have always been cases of unknown hepatitis, but of course there is a need for clarification. Experts will continue to study the cases until they can pinpoint the exact one etiology of hepatitis, give “a name and a surname” to the person responsible. At present, it is necessary to reiterate that there is no alarm signal in Italy and in general also in Europe and the United States, where only the United Kingdom has been hit by an abnormal wave. A new circular from the Italian health authorities is expected shortly before an update on the situation.

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