A total of four children died from acute childhood hepatitis. The origin of these severe inflammations of the liver remains unknown. We take stock.

Writing AlloDocteurs with AFP

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An epidemic still as mysterious. For nearly a month, cases of acute hepatitis in children have been increasing around the world. While theWorld Health Organization (WHO) still had only ten cases on April 5, the health authority now counts 228 in 20 countries, and more than 50 other cases are under investigation.

The majority of cases have been reported in Europe, first in the United Kingdom. But since April, cases of severe inflammation have spread. Three Indonesian children have died of this mysterious liver disease, the Indonesian Ministry of Health announced on Tuesday May 3. This brings to four the number of children who have died of hepatitis worldwide.

Read also: Hepatitis of unknown origin in children: what are the signs that should alert?

Fever, convulsions and loss of consciousness

The three Indonesian children, aged two, eight and 11, presented with fever, jaundice, convulsions and loss of consciousness, ministry spokeswoman Siti Nadia Tarmizi said. “We suspect these are cases of acute hepatitis, but need to confirm that they are not due to the known hepatitis A, B, C, D and Rb viruses.“, she added.

This hepatitis mainly affects children under 10 years old, and is manifested by jaundice, diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal pain. Some cases required liver transplantation.

Update on the hepatitis epidemic
Update on the hepatitis epidemic —
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A suspected adenovirus

Last week, an analysis of these mysterious cases of hepatitis in the United States led the American health authorities to favor the track of an adenovirus without however establishing it as a definitive cause.

Commonplace, adenoviruses are generally rather known to cause respiratory symptoms, conjunctivitis or even digestive disorders. Transmission occurs by the faecal-oral or respiratory route, with epidemic peaks often in winter and spring, and more often in communities (nurseries, schools, etc.). The majority of humans are infected before they are five years old.