Mysterious childhood hepatitis: WHO is alarmed by this epidemic “of unknown origin” which has killed 22 people worldwide

The WHO is concerned about the development of cases of childhood hepatitis, the origin of which remains unexplained.

The World Health Organization (WHO) warned Thursday that the world is facing an epidemic of hepatitis “of unknown origin” affecting children, citing the “thousands of acute viral infections” of the disease that occur in children and adolescents.

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On the occasion of World Hepatitis Day, the United Nations agency assured that it was working in full cooperation with the scientists and leaders of the countries concerned in order to try to understand the cause of this infection which does not seem to correspond to any of the five known types of hepatitis.

“To achieve maximum effectiveness, hepatitis surveillance must be carried out at the community level through an effective primary health care system,” advised WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Gebreyesus.

Although most acute hepatitis causes only mild symptoms and sometimes goes undetected, in some cases it can lead to complications and become fatal.

35 countries, 1.1010 cases

As of July 8, 2022, 35 countries in five WHO regions have reported 1,010 probable cases of severe acute hepatitis of unknown etiology (origin, editor’s note) in children, who meet the WHO case definition, including 22 deaths. Since the previous Disease Outbreak News published on June 24, 2022, 90 new probable cases and four additional deaths have been reported to WHO. In addition, two new countries, Luxembourg and Costa Rica, have reported probable cases.

WHO has launched a global survey with the aim of estimating the incidence of severe acute hepatitis of unknown etiology in 2022 compared to the previous five years, in order to understand where cases and liver transplants are occurring in higher than expected rates.

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Thus, complications from acute hepatitis A and E infections caused approximately 78,000 deaths worldwide in 2019.

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