The Ministry of Health has set up a situation room to monitor cases of acute childhood hepatitis of unknown origin. According to Folder, the proposal is to raise evidence to identify possible causes of the disease, as well as assist in investigations into reported diseases across Brazil.
In the latest update of the surveillance department of the Ministry of Health, 44 cases of this disease were reported in the country. Of these, three have been canceled and the rest are under observation. Cases have been reported in the states of Sao Paulo (14), Minas Gerais (7), Rio de Janeiro (6), Paran ((2), Pernambuco (3), Santa Catarina (3), Rio Grande do Sul (3). Mato Grosso do Sul (2) and Espirito Santo (1).
The Situation Room opened on Friday (13), will operate every day of the week and includes the participation of portfolio, Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and invited experts.
In addition to monitoring, the room will standardize the information and direct the flow of notifications and investigations to all state and municipal health departments, as well as central and public health reference laboratories. “The purpose is to contribute to the international effort in the investigation to identify the etiological agent responsible for causing acute hepatitis for unknown reasons,” the ministry was told.
On the 10th, the Ministry held a meeting with a group of experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) and representatives from eight countries in the region (United Kingdom, Spain, United States, Canada, France, Portugal, Colombia and Argentina). Emergency strategies in public health, infectology, pediatrics and epidemiology, to discuss the evidence available so far.
Earlier in the day, the folder published a technical note, including guidelines from the state and municipal health departments on notifications, investigations and laboratory flows of possible cases of acute hepatitis of unknown etiology among children and adolescents. Since the evidence of the disease is still very dynamic, the guidelines should be updated periodically in the situation room.
Which is known
Hepatitis of unknown origin has affected children in at least 20 countries. The disease manifests itself in very severe forms and has no direct relation to the known viruses of the disease. In about 10% of cases, liver transplantation was required.
According to the WHO, more than 200 cases have been reported worldwide to date, with the majority (183) in the United Kingdom. There were also reports from Spain, Israel, the United States, Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands, Italy, Norway, France, Romania, Belgium and Argentina. The disease mainly affects children from one month to 16 years of age. So far one patient has died.
In a statement issued on April 23, the WHO said there was no link between the disease and the vaccine used against Covid-19. “Speculation regarding the side effects of the vaccine against Covid-19 is not supported because most of the infected children have not been vaccinated against Covid-19.”
In a note released in early April, the UK’s National Health Agency, the country with the highest number of reported cases, also said there was no link between the disease and the coronavirus vaccine. “Most infected children are under 5 years old, too young to be vaccinated.”
In the Americas and the Caribbean, patients with acute hepatitis had gastrointestinal symptoms, including abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, and jaundice (when the skin and whites of the eyes turn yellow), according to the PAHO. There was no record of fever.
Current treatment seeks to alleviate the symptoms and stabilize the patient if the condition is severe. Once the source of the infection has been identified, treatment recommendations should be modified.
Parents should be on the lookout for symptoms such as diarrhea or vomiting and jaundice. In such cases, immediate medical attention should be sought.
Details of the symptoms can be found on the PAHO website.