by Penny Bouloutza
Scientists and public health authorities are looking into the recent outbreak of acute hepatitis in children, recently recorded in several countries around the world, and trying to find its cause.
By Wednesday, about 200 cases of unexplained etiology had been identified - more than half in the UK - in people under the age of 16 and mainly in children aged three to five. A common adenovirus has been isolated in 77% of those studied in the UK.
"We still do not know if this virus has a causal relationship with the incidents. "The fact that it has been detected in more than half of the cases in the United Kingdom is a serious fact, but it is not proof", the pediatrician-infectious disease specialist and director of the NSS at the Pediatric Clinic of the "Agia Sofia" Children's Hospital, Athanasia Lourida, tells Kathimerini. According to her, hepatitis is an extremely rare complication of adenoviruses. "It simply came to our notice then. It may be a different and even more infectious strain of the virus. But there may be other factors that lead to hepatitis such as the genetic background of children."
The symptoms are vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain which are also manifested in gastrointestinal viruses. As Ms. Lourida points out, "what should be of particular concern to parents is whether these symptoms are accompanied by fatigue, if the child has dark urine - the color of cognac or coca-cola -, discolored stools and a pale yellow tinge to the conjunctiva of the eye. Pediatricians are aware of hepatitis. Treatment is symptomatic of liver inflammation and supportive. Lots of liquid sugars, fat-free diets. There are no special medicines ".
In the country, too, the authorities are on the alert to identify possible cases of acute hepatitis of unclear etiology. "Since it has been isolated in at least 14 countries, it is very likely that we will have cases in Greece as well", points out Ms. Lourida, "let's hope that we will not see a large increase in cases. It is encouraging that we do not have thousands of incidents around the world. We are waiting and we are watching".