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Hepatitis of unknown origin: investigation opened in the United States after five deaths

Cases of hepatitis of unknown origin are worrying in the United States. American health authorities announced on Friday May 6 that they were investigating 109 cases identified in children in the United States, including five deaths. These cases of severe liver inflammation have been detected in 25 states and US territories, and the affected children have a median age of just 2 years, said an official from the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) during a a press conference. Outside the United States, more than 200 cases have been identified, particularly in Europe, said another official.

Because of their young age, the children concerned were for the most part not eligible to be vaccinated against Covid-19. “Vaccination against Covid-19 is not the cause” of this disease, hammered Jay Butler, deputy director in charge of infectious diseases for the CDC, saying he wanted to put an end to rumors circulating on the internet. He clarified that Covid-19 infection was not ruled out as a potential cause. However, the CDC favors the track of a certain type of adenovirus, viruses that are fairly common but which were not previously known to cause cases of hepatitis in healthy children.

Adenovirus called “type 41”

It has been confirmed that more than half of the children affected in the United States have tested positive for the so-called “type 41” adenovirus. “Investigators here and around the world are working hard to determine the cause”, assured Jay Butler. The US cases have occurred over the past seven months, he said. And 14% of affected children had to receive a liver transplant. “We know that this news can be worrying, especially for parents of young children. It is important to remember that this severe hepatitis is rare”, wanted to reassure Jay Butler. If 90% of the children had to be hospitalized, in the majority of cases they recovered afterwards.

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