Kenya on high alert for severe and strange Hepatitis strain in children

By Lydia Gichuki

The World Health Organization (WHO) and US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CBC) has raised alarm over a severe and strange strain of hepatitis that is attacking children. WHO says the strain is ‘Acute, severe and of unknown origin.’

343 probable cases have been reported in 21 countries, with 26 children needing liver transplants. Fifteen countries have reported five or few cases.

90 percent of these cases required hospitalization while 14 percent required liver transplants.

To this end, Prof Elijah Songok, virology and Chief Research Officer Kenya Medical Research Institute has said Kenya is on high alert following the announcement last month.

‘We are aware of this strange strain although we have not recorded any care thus far. We have not received any sample to test from hospitals or pediatric units but doctors are on high alert,’ he said.

CDC is investigating 1098 cases of severe hepatitis in children including five deaths to determine a cause with adenovirus infection as a primary line of inquiry.Advertisementsabout:blankREPORT THIS AD

The clinical syndrome among identified cases is acute hepatitis (liver inflammation) with markedly elevated liver enzymes. Many cases reported gastrointestinal symptoms including abdominal pain, diarrhea, and vomiting preceding presentation with severe acute hepatitis, and increased levels of liver enzymes

Hepatitis is a liver infection caused by contagious hepatitis viruses with the common being hepatitis B and C. it causes liver infections resulting in liver inflammation thus inhibiting crucial functions such as processing of nutrients, filtering of blood, and fighting infection.

Hepatitis is not common in children, especially one that is not linked to one of the hepatitis viruses.

Hepatitis can also be caused by heavy alcohol use, toxins, some medication, and certain medical conditions.

A parent should be on the lookout for signs such as dark urine, light-colored stool, yellowing of the skin or yellowing of the eyes and seek immediate medical attention if a child starts exhibiting the signs.

It is not yet clear if there has been an increase in hepatitis cases, or an increase in awareness of hepatitis cases that occur at the expected rate but go undetected.

Photo Credit; jarun011 / Getty Images

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