In recent days, new cases of hepatitis of unknown origin have been reported in children in a number of countries, namely the United States, Denmark, Ireland and the Netherlands, but also in the United Kingdom and Spain.
As these cases increase, Multinews contacted the director of the National Hepatitis Program of the Directorate-General for Health (DGS) to find out if there is a risk of the disease entering Portugal and what is at stake. .
Rui Tato Marinho considers it “likely” that Portugal will register cases of hepatitis of unknown origin in the short term because the disease is already in a neighboring country.
“It’s clearly likely, in fact, we’ve already seen this in other diseases, namely Covid-19. I learned this morning that there were cases in Galicia and other Spanish provinces, so it is not impossible that there will be cases in Portugal tomorrow as well, ”he says.
According to the official, the unit that reports these cases when they are confirmed is the Deposit Guarantee Scheme. “This is not yet a notifiable disease, but the health authority currently responsible is DGS,” he stresses.
It seems to be due to an adenovirus
And what do you already know about the disease at this point? “We know this is hepatitis in very young children aged 2 to 4 years, which has already led to about 100 cases, which raises suspicion because this figure is not very common in such young children,” he explains.
“A virus known as ‘adenovirus’ was detected, which was also identified in Covid, but it means nothing, there is no connection,” he explains, adding that “it is none of the most common viruses, A, B, C, D, E,” which most often identified.
The expert points out that “in some cases things are not going well – even if there are no deaths – and children may need a liver transplant”, however, these are “less common” situations.
“We also know that it causes very large changes in liver tests,” and therefore “it can be a virus, not least because it often begins with vomiting, fever, abdominal pain, and in the most severe cases, yellow eyes, so-called.”
Can it be passed on? How?
As a virus, Rui Marinho says, “It is contagious, but viruses can be transmitted in many ways, either through the airways, which is the most common – although no respiratory infection is described in these cases – or orally, that is, through feces or contaminated food.”
“In this way, I would say always wash your hands often and avoid being next to the sick,” he also recommends, “we certainly don’t know how to infect, because there are several countries to report.”
“Don’t panic” matters
The doctor emphasizes that “in the beginning, it’s hard to say it’s acute hepatitis, for safety’s sake it’s worth doing liver tests,” but “I wouldn’t panic people.”
“Parents, grandparents and guardians tend to be very attentive to children and are treated for the smallest things. Parents are good parents. That’s why not everyone should run to the liver for emergency examinations, ”he warns.
If they notice “very specific signs” (as described above), “something may be wrong,” and need to contact a doctor, the official argues that it is important for doctors to be more alert to the liver and demean. threshold for analysis ’.
“If I were a pediatrician at the emergency room, I would start doing more tests on the liver of a poorly able child,” and shows some of the signs mentioned above. “Basically, there is attention, but there’s no need to worry,” he concludes.