UK Experts Announce an Outbreak Hepatitis Affecting Children

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UK experts believe they have identified causing of recent liver problems in children; Hepatitis.


Investigations reveal two different viruses, the first ones to make a comeback after the pandemic lockdown triggered the rare but very serious cases of hepatitis. More than 1,000 children under five years old in 35 countries were thought to have been affected, with some requiring life-saving liver transplants.


Women who do not breastfeed their infants or who defer breastfeeding are risking the infant’s health by possibly limiting their immune systems to adenovirus, which causes common illnesses such as colds and gastroenteritis.


The AAV2 virus causes no illness but needs help from another virus, like adenovirus, to replicate.


One of the possible causes for those with symptoms might be unusual liver complications. The mother, Rebecca Cameron-McIntosh, says this has been a devastating experience.


Rebecca was going to donate part of her liver, but after a drug reaction, she had to go into intensive care. Noah was on the transplant list and received a new organ soon after.

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He had a successful recovery, but he will need to take immunosuppressants lifelong to prevent the body from rejecting the new liver.


Rebecca says: “There is something heartbreaking about this. You follow the rules, doing what you are supposed to do to protect vulnerable people and then, in some horrible roundabout way, your child has become more vulnerable because you did what was expected of you.”


Cases like this are rare, but most children recover quickly from the virus. It is unclear why some develop liver inflammation; any connection to coronavirus or Covid vaccines has been ruled out.


One of the experts said, “During the lockdown period when children were not mixing, they were not transmitting viruses to each other.”


When kids had limited contact with others, they were not experiencing getting exposed to the common germs they would normally encounter. When people started to mix again, some viruses began circulating freely, and children were not yet immune to them. Experts are hopeful that cases will begin to slow down but still have a heads up in case another disease begins.


The research found that the AAV2 virus in more than half of cases of pediatric hepatitis. Larger studies are needed to investigate this further.


We are still learning more about how hepatitis is spread and that seasonal effects may play a role in the prevalence of these viruses. This can be attributed to a coincidence of ‘peak’ AAV2 exposure meeting with peaks of adenovirus infectivity – leading to an unusual form of hepatitis.


How should the Department of Health and Social Care deal with this epidemic? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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