In the Americas there are 33 probable cases of severe acute hepatitis in children

In the Americas there are 33 probable cases of severe acute hepatitis in children

Enrique Pérez, head of Information on Health Emergencies and Risk Assessment at PAHO, said that almost 75% of these cases of hepatitis occur in children under five years of age.


The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) reported, in a technical note dated May 17that in the region of the Americas, 33 probable cases of severe acute hepatitis have been recorded in children in six countries of the region.

Until the first half of May, 429 probable cases have been registered in 22 countries, including 26 children who required a liver transplant. Six deaths have been recorded and another 40 cases are awaiting classification.

PAHO did not specify which countries in the region have registered cases of this type of hepatitis, which does not yet have a confirmed cause, but the authorities of the United States, Panama and Argentina have confirmed that they have probable cases, while in Brazil, Costa Rica and Mexico suspicious cases are investigated.

Enrique Pérez, head of Information on Health Emergencies and Risk Assessment at PAHO, said that almost 75% of these cases of hepatitis occur in children under five years of age.

“The information that we currently have available on the epidemiology, laboratory and ongoing clinic remains limited and we have not been able to identify the etiological agent causing the event. It may take some time before we can really establish the mechanisms of causality », he said during the PAHO press conference.

*Also read: PAHO: Venezuela, Paraguay and Brazil registered an increase in the number of deaths from covid-19

Among the hypotheses of this hepatitis is the adenovirus F41 and other concurrent causes. Pérez pointed out that the SARS-CoV-2 virus -corresponding to covid-19- is also being investigated as a coinfection or a previous infection in patients who later acquire this adenovirus.

The immune system, according to the specialist’s explanation, could be activated by a previous covid-19 infection that has persisted in the child’s intestine and causes inflammation of the liver when an adenovirus infection occurs, but he reiterated that there is still not enough data that support this hypothesis.

PAHO asked the countries to focus efforts to investigate cases that meet the definition of probable case, and report them through a standardized form for data collection.

Pérez explained that “these data are arriving and are collected in a standardized way to be comparable. Several studies are underway to determine the etiology. To the extent that the investigation progresses, recommendations for prevention, treatment and control will be issued and updated.


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