Common viruses could be the reason behind the surge in hepatitis cases seen in children in 2022, study suggests.
The researchers analyzed blood, stool and liver biopsies and found that the patients were infected with three or four common viruses at the same time when they had hepatitis.
The research, published in the journal Nature homes, found that adeno-associated virus 2, or AAV2, a virus not previously known to cause disease, was found in 93 percent of cases.
Another virus found was also adenovirus type 41, which was previously identified as a potential suspect in the diseases by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and brings with it symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting and nausea.
The researchers also found a herpes virus, an enterovirus and an Epstein-Barr virus – this can cause mononucleosis (also known as kissing disease).
The results do not prove that co-infections directly cause severe hepatitis, but they provide important clues that they do.
The study focused on 16 children in the United States with severe hepatitis.
The researchers compared the results with 113 pediatric patients who were healthy or had liver problems.
Last year, two other studies also detected adeno-associated virus (AVV2) in severe cases of pediatric hepatitis in the UK.
“Similar findings from three independent studies lend strong credibility to the findings,” Thomas Baumert, head of the Inserm Research Institute for Viral and Liver Diseases and the University of Strasbourg in France, said in a statement.
In 2022, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported 1,010 probable cases of severe hepatitis in 35 countries of the world.
What is hepatitis and what are the symptoms?
Hepatitis is a condition that affects the liver and can be caused by infection with a virus, according to the NHS.
Some of the symptoms include:
- Stomach ache
- High temperature
- Loss of appetite
- Dark urine
- Muscle and joint pains
Between 2021 and 2022, WHO reported 435 probable cases of severe acute hepatitis in the United States, with 24 cases requiring liver transplants.
According to the CDC, as of 2021, five children had been identified with hepatitis in Alabama.
To know more:
Number of known cases among UK children under 10 rises to 111 in 2022
Mysterious spike in liver disease among children in UK now emerging in EU and US
“The children had significant liver disease, including some with liver failure, with no known cause,” the CDC said.
“The five children tested negative for hepatitis A, hepatitis B and hepatitis C viruses and tested positive for adenovirus, a common virus that typically causes colds or flu-like illnesses, or more rarely stomach or intestines,” they added.
In the UK, in 2022, there were 250 confirmed cases of acute non-AE hepatitis identified in children under 16 years of age.
The GOV.UK website said that between 21 January and 13 June 2022, “12 children in the UK meeting the case definition required liver transplantation; no UK resident cases died”.