The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported that at least one child has died and 17 have required liver transplants in an outbreak of hepatitis in the United States, the UK, and other European nations.
A statement from the U.N. health agency, which came after a nationwide alert from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said that “there have been continuing further reports of cases of acute hepatitis of unknown origin among young children.”
“It is not yet clear if there has been an increase in hepatitis cases, or an increase in awareness of hepatitis cases that occur at the expected rate but go undetected. While adenovirus is a possible hypothesis, investigations are ongoing for the causative agent,” the WHO statement reads.
Thus far, one death has been reported, while 17 children—or about 10 percent of the total children who are affected—have required liver transplantation, the WHO stated. It didn’t provide more details about the cases, such as where the death occurred.
The UK has the most cases with 114, according to the WHO’s data. Spain is next with 13, then Israel with 12, and the United States with nine. The children affected range in age from 1 month to 16 years, the WHO stated.
The symptoms of those who are affected include diarrhea, vomiting, jaundice—or yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes—and abdominal pain.
Investigators say they don’t believe the COVID-19 vaccine is associated with the hepatitis outbreak. UK officials said last week that there’s “no link” between the cases and the vaccines.
“Hypotheses related to side effects from the COVID-19 vaccines are currently not supported as the vast majority of affected children did not receive COVID-19 vaccination. Other infectious and non-infectious explanations need to be excluded to fully assess and manage the risk,” the WHO said in a statement.
Last week, the CDC issued a nationwide alert regarding an outbreak of hepatitis among a cluster of children in Alabama. The agency said five of those nine children also had adenovirus Type 41.
“Five pediatric patients with significant liver injury, including three with acute liver failure, who also tested positive for adenovirus” were reported by an Alabama children’s hospital to the CDC, according to the federal health agency. Those children were described as healthy by the CDC, which noted that they didn’t have COVID-19, the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.
Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver that can be caused by a viral infection, alcohol, prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen, high doses of certain herbal supplements, toxins, and various medical conditions. Hepatitis viruses, which spread via bodily fluids, can also cause liver inflammation.