Health · August 5, 2022

Spain reports first deaths from acute hepatitis in children

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Spain has reported its first two deaths from acute hepatitis, or hepatitis, in children – a disease that has unknown causes and is monitored by world health authorities.

Spain’s Health Ministry said 46 cases of the disease had been reported in Spain and that three required liver transplants.

Of the three transplant patients, two died — a 15-month-old baby in June and a 6-year-old in July.

A woman and her 7-month-old son are awaiting a liver transplant.

A woman and her 7-month-old son are awaiting a liver transplant.
(Juancho Torres/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

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The ministry said in a statement on Thursday that as of July 28, 507 cases had been reported in 21 countries in Europe, including 273 in the UK.

A pediatrician vaccinates a child with a 6-way combination vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus, polio, whooping cough, Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), and hepatitis B.

A pediatrician vaccinates a child with a 6-way combination vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus, polio, whooping cough, Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), and hepatitis B.
(Julian Stratenschulte / dpa (Photo by Julian Stratenschulte / picture alliance via Getty Images))

At least 180 cases and six deaths have been reported in the United States.

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Health officials remain baffled as to what causes hepatitis, saying the best available evidence points to a stomach disease not known to cause liver problems in otherwise healthy children.

Spain says it has started monitoring the situation closely after Britain warned the World Health Organization following a spike in cases.

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The ministry said it has not seen an increase in the number of cases of this type of hepatitis compared to estimates made using data from previous years.