Children in US and Europe Coming Down With a Mystery Illness; Health Officials Explore Adenovirus 41 as Possible Cause

Britain is investigating some 74 cases of a mysterious liver illness attacking only children as they come down with either hepatitis or liver inflammation. As similar cases have been reported in the United States, Ireland and Spain, the World Health Organization (WHO) has been alerted.

In a statement released on Friday, the WHO officials believe that, "given the increase in cases reported over the past one month and enhanced case search activities, more cases are likely to be reported in the coming days."

Microscope image of Autoimmune hepatitis Wikimedia Commons

The illness is gradually being deemed as a concerning one because there have been no immediate causes identified by medical professionals. The Associated Press reports that the mystery liver illness targets only children aged 1 to 6 years and the symptoms such as jaundice, diarrhea and abdominal pain have been observed apart from hepatitis and liver inflammation. Hepatitis is a life threatening disease if not treated.

The illness has fortunately not resulted in any deaths till now. However a few cases have been so severe that they required liver transplants. Medical officials have deduced that there might be some involvement of a virus that is commonly associated with colds.

WHO headquarters in Geneva Wikimedia Commons

WHO reports that out of the children suffering from the illness, some had tested positive for adenovirus and some for Covid-19. Hepatitis type A, B, C and E viruses that are commonly associated with such diseases have also been eliminated as one of the causes by lab testing. International travel was also suspected as a cause however not much is known about it till now.

Alabama saw 9 cases and according to the health officials in each case, the child tested positive for adenovirus. One particular version of adenovirus 41 which is usually related with gut inflammation is being explored by the medical professionals.

"At this time adenovirus may be the cause for these, but investigators are still learning more - including ruling out the more common causes of hepatitis," the CDC said in a statement.
The WHO was intimated about the mystery disease earlier this month when some 10 children in Scotland came down with a severe case of hepatitis and had to be hospitalized. Following this, the UK health officials reported 64 more cases. WHO officials have said that more exploration into the disease is required before a potential involvement of a virus can be determined.