Unusual cases of severe acute hepatitis in young children: review by GloPID-R scientists appears in BMC Medicine

Scientists from the GloPID-R Scientific Secretariat have published a review in BMC Medicine about recent cases of severe hepatitis in young children. This outbreak affecting very young children primarily in high-income countries, attracted particular attention due to the severity of the disease and its unknown aetiology.

“Severe acute hepatitis of unknown aetiology in children-what is known?” published on 29 July 2022 examines the ways in which this outbreak has put to the test the global health community’s capacity for a coordinated, effective response. As of 26 May 2022, WHO had reported a total of 650 cases across 33 countries (dating back to October 2021). Among these, 38 patients received a liver transplant and 9 patients died. The countries most affected were the UK, the United States and Japan, followed by countries in Europe. Viral hepatitis strains A–E were not identified in any of the cases.

The authors suggest that the speed of the initial response indicates improvement in the global capability for a coordinated response and reflects lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic. An improved response was facilitated by close collaboration between health and public health agencies, as well as microbiologists, clinicians, researchers and public health experts. The article highlights the continuing known gap in surveillance data and the pressing need to strengthen the capacity for detection, diagnostics and surveillance in many settings worldwide.

Members of the GloPID-R Scientific Secretariat who co-authored this review include Alice Norton, Scientific Manager; Susan Khader and Isabel Foster, Research Policy Officers; and Louise Sigfrid, Clinical Research Specialist.

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The GloPID-R Secretariat is a project which receives funding from the European Union’s Horizon Europe research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 101094188.