Hepatitis of unknown origin is not contagious like the common one: UNAM expert

Hepatitis in children is regularly a rare event, it does not occur frequently, and that is why this new outbreak is attracting attention. “It is not something that occurs on a regular basis,” said Roberto Vázquez Campuzano, an academic at the UNAM School of Medicine.

Recalling that the new outbreak recently occurred in the United Kingdom, moved to France and Israel, and registered 109 cases in the United States, the specialist from the Department of Microbiology and Parasitology explained:

“So far, of the four infections detected in Mexico, in the state of Nuevo León, two are from hepatitis A (the most common in children); another is negative for all known viruses for that disease; and the fourth is still under investigation.”

The expert argued that “the hepatitis in minors that has emerged is not from any of the known viruses or of the most frequent as hepatitis A, B, C and E. They are not the cause of the disease.

Although it is not yet known how it arose in England, he commented, several hypotheses are being considered: one investigates whether it is related to SARS-CoV-2; another associates it with adenovirus 41, which has been isolated in most cases and is linked to gastroenteritis.

“In the case of the new outbreak, it is analyzed whether hepatitis is caused by intoxication with any medication; Until now, several are used, such as paracetamol, very frequently used in the pandemic ”, but the investigation continues, he insisted.

The relationship with adenovirus 41, which has been identified in the blood, but not yet in the liver, is also being studied. One fact that draws the attention of specialists is that with the hepatitis caused by the outbreak there is no transmission between families; the patient does not infect, for example, his brothers. “This is rare and means we need to investigate further,” she said.

The specialist from the Faculty of Medicine recalled that the condition is inflammation of the liver and there are various causes that produce it: drug-induced hepatitis is due to the consumption of medicines; obstructive due to stones in the gallbladder; the alcoholic, due to the abuse of alcoholic beverages; and the infectious.

In the case of infants, most hepatitis is caused by the hepatitis A virus, which is common in our country and the main cause that attacks children under five years of age; its prevalence is high, 70%.

“It is important for moms and dads to be vigilant: if children have diarrhea, vomiting or a yellow tint to their skin or eyes. In those cases you have to seek medical attention, ”he recommended.

Basic hygiene measures must be followed, such as hand washing, covering oneself with the forearm when coughing or sneezing, in addition to maintaining precautions against covid-19, which are also useful for this disease.

The expert said that hepatitis does not leave sequelae in children, at least that caused by known viruses.

“We attack the infection quickly; Only with the hepatitis B virus, if the infection is acquired during the first five years of life, the person becomes a chronic carrier, which means that we are going to have the infection all our lives and we can develop some complications. That is why it is recommended that all children under the age of one year be vaccinated against hepatitis B, ”he concluded.

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