Trending

A mysterious liver disease is infecting kids across Europe and the US has killed at least 1 child

Business Insider US
At least one child is dead, and 17 have required liver transplants.
PhotoAlto/Sigrid Olsson/Getty Images
  • A mysterious hepatitis spreading across Europe and the US has killed at least one child, the WHO reported.
  • Health experts aren't exactly sure what's causing the liver-inflammation cases yet, but they think an adenovirus may be at work.
  • Common symptoms of the illness include diarrhea, abdominal pain, and vomiting.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

The mysterious outbreak of hepatitis spreading across Europe and the US has killed at least one child.

On Saturday, the World Health Organisation (WHO) announced that "at least one death has been reported," among the 169 hepatitis cases the agency has identified since early April.

So far, this liver-inflaming condition has hit at least 11 European countries and two US states. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told Insider in an email that this first recorded death was not a US case, but said the agency has recieved "additional reports" of cases from other US jurisdictions since its advisory went out late last week, and it is evaluating them. 

It's still unclear exactly what's causing this hepatitis, but disease detectives worldwide suspect that a virus called adenovirus 41 may be the trigger for this liver inflammation in children. At least 17 of the patients, who've ranged in age from 1 month to 16 years old, have required liver transplants so far.

The outbreak is bizarre because hepatitis caused by adenovirus 41 doesn't usually infect healthy, young children. The WHO said adenovirus infection is a "possible hypothesis" for these hepatitis cases, but that "investigations are ongoing for the causative agent." Adenovirus has been identified in at least 74 of the cases, and at least 19 of the kids were co-infected with the coronavirus and adenovirus, the WHO said. 

at least 169 cases have been reported so far, and 17 of those required liver transplants.
World Health Organization

So far, in addition to the 11 US cases, more than 150 cases have been reported in Europe, including:

  • 114 in the United Kingdom
  • 13 in Spain
  • 12 in Israel 
  • 6 in Denmark
  • less than 5 in Ireland
  • 4 in the Netherlands 
  • 4 in Italy
  • 2 in Norway
  • 2 in France
  • 1 in Romania
  • and 1 in Belgium.

The UK, where the majority of the cases have been reported so far, has recently seen an uptick in adenovirus infections in the community, and so has the Netherlands. 

Common symptoms of this issue include abdominal pain, diarrhea, and vomiting. Adenovirus 41 spreads — like Covid-19 does — through close contact.

Get the best of our site emailed to you every weekday.

Go to the Business Insider front page for more stories.

Rand - Dollar
16.19
+0.4%
Rand - Pound
19.64
-0.0%
Rand - Euro
16.62
-0.1%
Rand - Aus dollar
11.52
+0.0%
Rand - Yen
0.12
-0.1%
Gold
1,802.29
0.0%
Silver
20.82
0.0%
Palladium
2,227.50
0.0%
Platinum
966.00
0.0%
Brent Crude
98.15
-1.5%
Top 40
63,996
-1.0%
All Share
70,731
-0.8%
Resource 10
64,048
-2.8%
Industrial 25
86,577
-0.6%
Financial 15
16,059
+0.6%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo