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Hepatitis of unknown origin in children: what are the ways to explain this disease?


Several cases of hepatitis of unknown origin have been observed in young children. First spotted in the United Kingdom, cases have also been spotted in France. It seems that the infectious cause is preferred.

Several cases of hepatitis of unknown origin have affected children. Some serious forms even required a liver transplant in six patients.

If the WHO wants to be reassuring by recalling that “no other epidemiological risk factor has been identified to date, in particular recent international travel”, it also indicates “closely monitoring the situation”.

The WHO and the ECDC (European Center for Disease Prevention and Control) are therefore investigating the situation and according to the WHO, the analyzes on the infected children have made it possible to exclude all the viruses already known from hepatitis ( A, B, C, D and E).

The ECDC has already revealed that the link with the Covid vaccine has been ruled out. On the other hand, some children affected by these cases of hepatitis have also been tested positive for Covid “and/or adenovirus”the WHO said.


Still, these adenoviruses are a family of very common viruses in children, explains to Europe 1 Robert Cohen, pediatrician and infectious disease specialist. On the other hand, the link is studied. “We know that there is currently a sharp rise in infections with this adenovirus in the British population“, analyzes Graham Cooke, specialist in infectious diseases at Imperial College London, interviewed by France 24.

“There is an alert, we have been asked to be vigilant, but we don’t know much about these infections”indicates for his part Eric Jéziorski, head of the pediatric unit of the Montpellier University Hospital, who has not seen any cases in his consultations.

Difficult in any case to establish a direct link insofar as this type of virus was not discovered in all the children who developed this mysterious acute hepatitis.

Infectious track

Another track is being scrutinized by scientists, and seems the most probable for the time being, although it still requires further investigation. Indeed, for Yazdan Yazdanpanah, head of the ANRS-emerging infectious diseases health agency interviewed by France Info: “The cause can be infectious and viral”. A theory, supported by the ECDC which considers it “most likely due to the clinical and epidemiological characteristics of the cases studied”.

For now the ECDC has also ruled out infection through food or drink. “Detailed information collected through a questionnaire on cases regarding food, drink and personal habits did not identify any common exposures,” the European center said in its statement.

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