Although mild forms of hepatitis are common, the severity of reported cases has concerned health authorities.
Health officials in several countries in Europe and the US are investigating cases of a serious liver disease in children that was first identified in the UK.
The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control said on Tuesday that it had detected an unspecified number of cases of hepatitis or inflammation of the liver in Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands and Spain.
The United Kingdom said last week it had identified 74 serious cases since January and the United States said nine cases of acute hepatitis had been found in the state of Alabama.
“Given the increase in reported cases over the past month and enhanced case-finding activities, more cases are likely to be reported in the coming days,” World Health Organization officials said in a statement last week.
While mild forms of hepatitis are relatively common in children, the severity of reported cases has given health authorities pause.
“Mild hepatitis is very common in children after a variety of viral infections, but what you’re seeing right now is quite different,” Graham Cooke, a professor of infectious diseases at Imperial College London, told the agency. Associated Press news.
Some of the cases in the UK have required specialist care in liver units and some have required a liver transplant. The nine children with the disease in the US were between 1 and 6 years old. Two liver transplants required.
UK scientists have previously said that one of the possible causes they were looking into was adenoviruses, a family of common viruses that are usually responsible for conditions such as conjunctivitis, sore throats or diarrhoea.
The researchers were also looking into any links between the condition and COVID-19, although some have noted that the condition would likely be more widespread given the prominence of the coronavirus.
Meanwhile, British public health officials have ruled out any link to COVID-19 vaccines, saying none of the affected children have been vaccinated.
The World Health Organization said no other links had been found between the affected children in the UK and none had recently traveled internationally.
Laboratory tests are being done to determine if a chemical or toxin may be behind the disease.