Two months after the UK sounded the alarm when the first cases of childhood acute hepatitis were discovered, there are still as many unknowns as hypotheses. The most recent one is related to dogs, which could be a possible cause of the outbreak of the mysterious disease now affecting more than 18 countries around the world.
And according to “ABC”, the British health authorities said that there is a close link between the large number of infected minors from families who have dogs or have been exposed to these pets.
In its latest report, the UK Health Safety Agency (UKHSA) indicated that up to 70% of children (64 of 92 surveyed) have owned a dog or been exposed to such animals.
The UKHSA adds that “the significance of this discovery is being explored”, but it may be a coincidence because dog ownership is common in the UK.
Today, Tuesday, the World Health Organization said that the World Health Organization continues to receive dozens of cases of mysterious hepatitis that affects children, and has so far resulted in about 230 cases worldwide.
“As of May 1, 228 cases have been reported to WHO in 209 countries, and another 50 are under investigation,” WHO spokesman Tarik Yasarevich told reporters in Geneva during the health authority’s latest public appearance.
Most cases are recorded in Europe, especially in the United Kingdom. But there are also cases in the United States that have reported five deaths and 15 liver transplants from the disease.
In Portugal, the number of suspected cases of acute hepatitis in children has risen to eight, according to the latest report issued by the Directorate General of Health (DGS), which through the task force created for this purpose will monitor the development of the disease daily.
What you already know:
Roy Tato Marinho, coordinator of the National Viral Hepatitis Program at the Directorate General of Surgery, told Multinews that the disease results in “very significant changes in liver analyses” and “often begins with vomiting, fever, stomach pain, and more serious yellow eyes, so-called jaundice.”
According to the specialist, “it is hepatitis in very young children, between the ages of 2 and 4 years”, in which “a virus known as” adenovirus “was detected, which was also identified in Covid, but it does not mean anything”, he explained in end of last month, adding that “it is not a common virus, A, B, C, D, E”, which is frequently recognized.
In about 10% of cases a transplant is required. He also said, “Out of the 10 children, one child now needs a transplant, and about 17 have already been transplanted, which shows the seriousness of the matter.”
The doctor stressed that “in the beginning, it is difficult to say that it is acute hepatitis, to make sure that liver tests are necessary”, but “I will not panic people.”
Parents, grandparents, and caregivers are usually very concerned about children and are treated to nothing. Good parents. That’s why not everyone should run to the emergency room for liver checks,” he warned.
Rui Tato Marinho “preferred not to have (the outbreak)”, but he does not think that it is likely that Portugal will get away, because the disease has already spread to many countries in Europe, including neighboring countries. “Now there is no chance of escape,” he said, “if you are already in Spain, it is not impossible to come to Portugal.”
Symptoms to watch out for:
Hepatitis of unknown origin is, as its name suggests, a mystery to the medical community at the moment. Information is scarce so far, but there are two symptoms that parents should be aware of.
“It is a very complete process when a disease appears, the agent of which is unknown. We are not sure at the moment that it is an infectious disease, because the epidemiological pattern is not very clear,” says virologist Laura Prum.
According to the official, “All this is still very early and we are in the information-gathering stage,” but it is already possible to notice some specific symptoms of the disease, which parents should pay special attention to.
He stresses that “in addition to gastrointestinal symptoms, such as diarrhea and vomiting, this hepatitis is characterized by jaundice, a yellowish color to the skin and eyes, and stools that may be whiter/discolored.” He concludes, “There are two signs that it is important for parents to be more vigilant in this situation.”