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Mysterious liver disease: no cases yet in Canada

According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, there are currently no Canadian cases of serious liver disease affecting children in Europe and the United States.

The agency confirmed to in an email that it has yet to see any cases of acute hepatitis – a type of liver inflammation – which was first seen in Scotland in early April.

“The Public Health Agency of Canada is aware of reports of severe acute hepatitis of unknown etiology in young children, as reported by WHO,” PHAC said in a statement. “We are monitoring the situation and, to date, no Canadian cases have been reported to PHAC.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) first reported the issue last Friday, saying that on April 5 it had been informed of 10 cases of severe acute hepatitis in children under 10 in Scotland. All were previously healthy children, and the youngest case was a child just 11 months old.

The children had symptoms such as jaundice, vomiting and abdominal pain.

According to the WHO, there are currently at least 74 cases in the UK, with three similar cases in Spain and a few more in Ireland being investigated, all involving children, largely under the age of 10 years old.

US health officials said Friday they are investigating nine similar cases in Alabama.

Acute hepatitis is the umbrella term for inflammation of the liver that affects liver function for less than six months, in which case it would be chronic hepatitis.

What “unknown etiology” means is that doctors don’t know what causes this particular type of acute hepatitis, because it can be the result of viral infections, damage to the bile ducts, shock or caused by drugs or alcohol.

The WHO said it ruled out hepatitis viruses types A, B, C and E through laboratory testing.