Saturday June 25, 2022

Acute hepatitis in children detected in EU, no rise in Finland

Published : 17 May 2022, 04:36

  DF Report

DF File Photo.

Several cases of hepatitis, or liver inflammation, in children have been diagnosed in the United Kingdom since the beginning of April, said the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare in a press release on Monday.

By the beginning of May, there were a total of 163 confirmed cases. In addition to the United Kingdom, around 100 cases have been diagnosed in other countries of the European Economic Area, and a total of around 450 cases have been diagnosed globally.

There is no indication of an increase in acute hepatitis among children in Finland.

All patients have been under 16 years of age, most of them between 2 and 5 years of age. The majority of the cases have been isolated. In only a few cases, an epidemiological link to another case has been identified.

The most common symptoms of the patients have been jaundice, vomiting, pale stools, diarrhoea, nausea and fatigue.

Some children had suffered from abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhoea during the weeks preceding the illness. Some of the patients have needed hospitalisation, and a small proportion of them have had to undergo a liver transplant.

A viral infection is suspected to be the cause of the surge in hepatitis cases, but studies have found no indication that the cause is one of the hepatitis viruses (A, B, C, D, E).

No connection with a coronavirus infection or a coronavirus vaccine has been found either.

Many of the patients have been diagnosed with adenovirus and it is currently considered the most likely cause of the surge in hepatitis.

An adenovirus infection is a common cause of infection symptoms in small children, and the incidence of the disease is highest in children under the age of 5.

Adenovirus is a known cause of hepatitis, but the cases are rare and usually mild and self-limiting.

However, such cases are diagnosed each year even in Finland. For people with weakened immune defence, adenovirus infections often cause more severe symptoms that may be prolonged, or the virus may remain latent and be reactivated later.

THL monitors the situation in Finland and elsewhere in the world together with local and international health authorities.