Washington/ London/ Tokyo | Jagran News Desk: After the United States (US) and Europe, several suspected cases of mysterious hepatitis have been detected in children in Japan and Canada. So far, more than 200 hepatitis cases have been reported in 14 countries, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), which had earlier issued an alert.

The WHO, on its website, said the clinical syndrome identified among cases is "acute hepatitis (liver inflammation)". Several cases have also reported gastrointestinal symptoms including abdominal pain, diarrhoea, and vomiting, the WHO said.

"Most cases did not have a fever. The common viruses that cause acute viral hepatitis (hepatitis viruses A, B, C, D, and E) have not been detected in any of these cases," the global health body said. "International travel or links to other countries based on the currently available information have not been identified as factors."

What experts have said about the mysterious hepatitis cases?

According to experts, these cases, reported mainly among children, are incredibly common, but they can cause cold and pneumonia.

"That gives rise to the possibility that this might be an unusual or mutated adenovirus," news agency IANS quoted Deirdre Kelly, an expert in paediatric hepatology at Birmingham Women's and Children's Hospital, as saying.

"Although so far, it doesn't look abnormal."

Another, related theory is that the virus's impact has been amplified by a lack of exposure to common adenoviruses during lockdowns.

There are lots of different types of adenovirus. One particular adenovirus called F41 was detected in around three-quarters of the children with confirmed hepatitis who were tested, BBC reported.

While adenovirus can cause hepatitis, this is the first time the adenovirus-41 strain has been linked to several severe cases.

Lab data from the NHS shows that common viruses are now circulating in children, particularly the under-fives, at a higher level than in previous years.

"Information gathered through our investigations increasingly suggests that this rise in sudden onset hepatitis in children is linked to adenovirus infection," Dr Meera Chand, director of clinical and emerging infections at UKHSA, was quoted as saying.

"However, we are thoroughly investigating other potential causes."

(With inputs from IANS)

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma