This week the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC) has warned of an increase in cases of hepatitis of unknown origin in children in the UK. Three cases have been diagnosed in Ciudad Real, Madrid and Aragon, one of which required a liver transplant. With the current information it is difficult to establish the cause.
Head of the Hepatology and Liver Transplant Group, IIS La Fe. Coordinator of the Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red de Enfermedades Hepáticas y Digestivas (CIBEREHD) group. President of the International Liver Transplant Society. Member of AMIT
As president of the International Liver Transplantation Society, I am in contact with British doctors who are investigating these cases.
They have ruled out dozens of possible causes, the most common ones, including many viruses, autoimmune diseases and toxins. Only in some cases did they coincide with covid positives, so it does not seem a likely cause. In some cases an adenovirus has been detected, but these viruses are common in children, so that might not be the cause.
They are still investigating, now doing a whole battery of more specific tests.
They are considering several hypotheses. One of them is that it coincides with the elimination of covid restrictions, children have been more protected, with masks, and in fact we have hardly seen any of this for the last two years. It may be that there is now an accumulation of cases related to the current higher exposure.
They are also going to do something essential that they have not yet had time to do, which is to compare with the epidemiological data of 2018 and 2019 in these months, to see if there is indeed a peak now. The investigation can take weeks.