Healthplan Spain


Spain Reports First Two Deaths From Acute Hepatitis Of Unknown Origin In Children Health News

Spain’s Ministry of Health has reported the first two deaths of acute hepatitis of unknown origin in children.

The announcement on Thursday said that two children had died, one a 6-year-old boy from Murcia and the other a 15-month-old baby from Andalusia. Both died following attempted liver transplants.

The six-year-old boy initially showed symptoms on July 2 which included cerebral oedema. He was then transferred to a Madrid hospital on the 18th for a liver transplant. The intervention was on July 29 but he sadly died the following day.

The 15-month-old baby was admitted to hospital at the end of June suffering from acute gastroenteritis. He also required a liver transplant but died 24 hours later.

The Ministry said that in 43 out of 46 cases the clinical evolution has been positive. Three of the cases have required a transplant with a girl from the Aragon currently said to be covering well following surgery.

The Ministry has stressed that “so far, the number of cases of hepatitis of unknown cause in children and transplants observed in this alert are within those expected, according to estimates made with data from previous years."

In fact, the Ministry said that the number of cases of hepatitis of unknown origin in children between 0 and 16 years between January and May this year, was consistent with the previous five years.

The United States has registered the most cases with 354, however, like Spain, they say this is nothing unusual and that the recent numbers correspond to those detected in the past.

Regional cases in Spain

So far the disease has been discovered in 10 Spanish regions with around 65% of cases discovered in girls.

Of the Spanish regions, Madrid has identified the most cases with 15.

This is followed by Catalonia (9), Galicia (5), Balearic Islands (4), Castilla-La Mancha and Murcia (3 cases each), Castilla y León and Andalusia (3 cases) and Aragon and the Canary Islands both with one case.

The average age of those affected is thought to be 5.3 years.

European cases

The virus which usually affects those under the age of 16 has been rampant in Europe, however, the cause is still largely unknown. It is believed that the spike in cases could be due to more vigorous testing.

At the end of July countries in Europe had registered 507 cases of acute hepatitis. Of those, the UK had the most with 273 cases. This was followed by Spain (40), Italy (35), Portugal (19) and Belgium (14).

Globally, around 900 cases have been identified with one in three requiring hospital treatment.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has asked member countries to provide more complete data on any cases that are found so that they can try and determine if there is a common cause for the rise in cases.

What is hepatitis?

Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver which can prevent it from functioning correctly. Hepatitis A to E can be acute (short-term) or chronic (long-term) and is usually caused by a virus.

Other possible causes of Hepatitis including some medications with toxins also being investigated, however, so far, a link has not been found.

What are the symptoms?

Those with hepatitis can display a number of symptoms including:-

  • Yellowing of the white part of the eyes or skin (jaundice)
  • Itchy skin
  • Pale or grey-coloured poo
  • Dark urine
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • A high temperature
  • Feeling and being sick
  • Feeling tired all the time
  • A loss of appetite
  • Stomach pain