Latin America begins to record unusual hepatitis cases in children

hepatitis cases
Photo: Shutterstock

At least 20 countries and three Brazilian states have reported or are investigating unusual hepatitis cases in otherwise healthy children. In Brazil, state authorities are investigating 15 suspected infections in São Paulo (7), Paraná (2), and Rio de Janeiro (6) — but the Health Ministry has no information on them. 

The disease, which remains rare and is of unknown origin, has already been confirmed in Panama, Argentina, and Puerto Rico over the past few days. 

The most common viruses that cause hepatitis were not found in any of the cases, according to the World Health Organization. 

“Adenovirus has been detected in blood or plasma samples for many of the cases, but in low viral loads,” the Pan-American Health Organization said in a May 10 statement. “Adenovirus has not yet been identified in the liver tissue samples analyzed and therefore, could be a coincidental rather than a causal factor.”

At this point, experts believe that the hepatitis cases are unrelated to Covid. Twenty of the 169 patients identified by the WHO tested positive for Covid, but given how the coronavirus has spread around the world, that is hardly surprising.