WHO announces outbreak in unexplained acute hepatitis infections in children

Outbreak in unexplained acute hepatitis infections in children

World Hepatitis Day is observed annually on 28 July. Here is what you need to know about the condition that is now affecting children. 

Dr holds anatomical model of human liver
Dr holds anatomical model of human liver /iStock

There has been a new outbreak of unexplained acute hepatitis infections (inflammation of the liver) affecting children, states the World Health Organisation.  

While officials do not know what is causing the outbreak, the sad part is that in some instances it has even resulted in death. 

The World Health Organisation reports as of 22 June 2022, 33 countries have reported 920 probable cases. It also reports that in 2019 alone, an estimated 78,000 deaths occurred worldwide due to complications of acute hepatitis A to E infections. 

Depending on the type, hepatitis A can last from a few weeks to several months, whereas hepatitis B and hepatitis C may present as a mild illness lasting a few weeks or as a life-long disease. 

Acute hepatitis B or C infection can be dangerous, leading to scarring, loss of function, or cancer.

READ: All you need to know about hepatitis

Sadly, about two in three people with hepatitis B do not know they are infected and about 50% of people with hepatitis C do not know they are infected. 

Some of the symptoms of the condition include vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain that lasts longer than a few days or the development of jaundice (yellow discolouration of the eyes and skin) and pale stools.

How it spreads 

The following is taken from CDC: 

Hepatitis A is spread when: 

 - A person ingests fecal matter—even in microscopic amounts—from contact with objects, food, or drinks contaminated by feces or stool from an infected person.

- Birth to an infected mother. 

- Sex with an infected person. 

- Sharing equipment that has been contaminated with blood from an infected person, such as needles, syringes, and even medical equipment, such as glucose monitors. 

- Sharing personal items such as toothbrushes or razors. 

- Poor infection control has resulted in outbreaks in health care facilities. 

- Receiving a blood transfusion or organ transplant before 1992 (when widespread screening virtually eliminated hepatitis C from the blood supply)

- Poor infection control has resulted in outbreaks in health care facilities. 


There is treatment available, but what is even more advisable is vaccination. The WHO recommends that pregnant women get tested for hepatitis B, which can help prevent transmission to babies. It also recommends that babies be vaccinated against hepatitis B within 24 hours of birth. 

The kind of treatment your health practitioner will recommend will depend on the type of hepatitis.

READ: Children in more countries suffer mystery hepatitis

Image courtesy of iStock/ @Shidlovski

Disclaimer: Health-related information provided in this article is not a substitute for medical advice and should not be used to diagnose or treat health problems. It is always advisable to consult with your doctor on any health-related issues.

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