The World Health Organization (WHO) said today that it has received reports of 348 probable cases of acute childhood hepatitis of unknown origin, a disease initially detected in the United Kingdom, in addition to an additional 70 cases that are awaiting classification.
This new disease has spread with cases in 20 countries and another 13 where there are probably also cases, although it is still being investigated, said Philippa Eastbrook, WHO global hepatitis program specialist.
The 348 reported cases are a significant jump from the 228 previously reported, but Eastbrook explained that the first figure mixes new cases with previous cases that had not been reported.
The United Kingdom concentrates the majority of cases, with a total of 163, and there are only six countries that have reported more than five cases so far.
“In the last week there was progress in the investigations and the hypotheses have been refined. The children’s genetics, their immune response and different viruses are being looked at. The most relevant hypothesis continues to be the one that has to do with the adenovirus and the role of covid is still considered, as a co-infection or due to past infection.Eastbrook detailed.
The affected countries have accelerated diagnostic tests and the result has been that 70% have tested positive for adenovirus in the blood,” added the expert, who said that in most cases the adenovirus subtype 41 has been identified.
In relation to the COVID-19Eastbrook pointed out that 18% of cases were positive to the PCR test and now serological tests will be delved into to detect if there were past infections by coronavirus.