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The Statens Serum Institut reported this week that currently cases of hepatitis without a known cause are being seen in children in a number of countries around the world, including Denmark. Three cases have been seen here since December.
“It’s more than we expected. All the children were hospitalized and several were seriously ill, but luckily none of them needed a liver transplant,” says chief physician Anders Koch of the Statens Serum Institut (SSI).
Danish health authorities have now launched extensive surveillance for unexplained cases.
“Normally we keep an eye out for hepatitis caused by certain viruses – for example hepatitis A. But now we have children with liver damage, which we don’t really know what causes.”
“Therefore, we have now expanded surveillance, so that the National Board of Health and the SSI, as well as paediatricians – including paediatricians in particular – are monitoring and recording these cases”, explains Anders Koch.
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Although SSI is aware of the situation both in Denmark and internationally and is closely monitoring developments, Anders Koch does not believe there is cause for concern.
“Even if it is a specific cause and not sporadic cases, the risk of the child being affected by this rare form of hepatitis is still incredibly low.”
As a parent, you should behave as you usually do when your child becomes ill and seek medical attention if you are concerned about the child’s condition. Typical and obvious symptoms of hepatitis are whitish stools, very dark urine and yellowing of the eyes and skin. Before that, you will typically have pronounced fatigue, decreased appetite, nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain or muscle and joint pain,” says Anders Koch.
In search of the cause
At the same time, people continue to search for the cause of unexplained cases of hepatitis.
Here England has taken the lead as most cases have so far been recorded here. But the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) is also working to find the cause.
Investigative work also takes place in individual countries. In Denmark among paediatricians in collaboration with the National Board of Health and SSI.
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