US health authorities announced Friday that they are investigating 109 cases of a serious type of hepatitis in children, five of whom died.
These cases of severe liver inflammation have been detected in 25 states and territories of the country in children with an average age of just 2 years, said a senior official from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at a press conference. .
More than 200 cases have also been identified outside the United States, particularly in Europe, another official said. On Thursday Argentina and Panama reported a first case each.
Due to their young age, most of the affected children were not eligible to be vaccinated against covid-19.
"Vaccination against covid-19 is not the cause" of this disease, said Jay Butler, deputy director for infectious diseases at the CDC, insisting that he wants to put an end to the rumors that are circulating on the Internet.
However, covid-19 infection is not ruled out as a possible cause.
The health authority, however, privileges the track of a type of adenovirus, a fairly common virus but which until now was not known to cause hepatitis in healthy children.
It has been confirmed that more than half of sick children in the United States have tested positive for the so-called adenovirus. "type 41".
"Investigators here and around the world are working hard to determine the cause."Jay Butler said.
The cases in the United States have occurred over the past seven months, he said. And 14% of affected children had to undergo a liver transplant.
"We know this news can be concerning, especially for parents of young children. It is important to remember that these cases of severe hepatitis are rare."Butler said.
90% of the children had to be hospitalized, but most were cured.