After the WHO alert on Friday, several cases of acute hepatitis of unknown origin have been reported in children in Europe. First identified in the United Kingdom, the disease would also have arrived in France.
After the launch of an “active case search”, “two cases of acute hepatitis whose etiology is still undetermined were reported by the Lyon University Hospital” in children under 10 years old and “are in the process of being investigated. ‘investigation,’ said Public Health France on Tuesday.
“Cases of acute hepatitis of undetermined etiology in children are not uncommon. The occurrence of these two cases is not unexpected and does not testify, at this stage, to an excess of cases in France”, added the same source, judging “other reports probably to be expected in the next few days” saw the active search launched.
Cases in several European countries
The European Center for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC) had earlier announced that cases of this childhood hepatitis have been detected in children in Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands and Spain. Nine suspected cases have also been identified in children aged 1 to 6 in Alabama in the United States, according to the ECDC.
“Investigations are continuing in all countries reporting cases. Currently, the exact cause of hepatitis remains unknown,” writes the ECDC, but British investigators “consider an infectious cause to be the most likely due to the clinical and epidemiological characteristics of the cases.”
No deaths recorded
On Friday, the World Health Organization (WHO) said it expected new reports in the coming days and had already reported “less than five” cases in Ireland and three in Spain.
The ECDC was unable to give the number of cases by country. No deaths have been recorded but some British cases have required liver transplantation. “Laboratory investigations of the cases excluded viral hepatitis types A, B, C, D and E in all cases,” according to the ECDC.
The United Kingdom initially reported 10 cases of severe hepatitis in Scotland to the WHO on April 5, before reporting a total of 74 three days later, according to the UN organization. Among the UK cases, “many cases showed signs of jaundice”. “Some of the cases were reporting gastrointestinal symptoms, including abdominal pain, diarrhea and vomiting in the previous weeks,” according to the ECDC.