Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Child hepatitis found in 20 countries

Child hepatitis found in 20 countries

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Pictures of an adenovirus linked to hepatitis in children enlarged from microscope. SUPPLIED

Child hepatitis found in 20 countries

The World Health Organisation (WHO) announced that 348 new cases of severe acute hepatitis in 20 different countries involving children aged 1 to 16 have now been reported, with most of the patients under the age of 10. Thus far, at least 17 children – or roughly five per cent – need liver transplants.

Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine said the WHO has not yet determined the exact cause of the outbreak, which is being referred to as a “mystery disease” by experts.

Vandine stated on May 13 that WHO had received reports of the mystery hepatitis detected only in children from 20 countries beginning in April of this year.

Subsequent research in Europe, the US and the UK has determined that the disease is not associated with the known common causes of hepatitis.

Laboratory tests and research identified the presence of an adenovirus that is one of the most common viruses in the world, but that virus causes respiratory inflammation and has not been shown to affect the liver in the past, she said.

She noted that Cambodia has yet to detect new cases of hepatitis. However, she called for vigilance and laid out mechanisms to track patients.

“We are closely monitoring this situation and we call on health networks across the country to be careful and track patients with signs of hepatitis, and especially strengthen the tracking of the intake process under which patients are admitted to hospitals,” she said.

The ministry has also strengthened the capacity of laboratories to prepare for more thorough analyses of suspected cases in a timely manner, though no samples of the disease have been identified thus far.

“The WHO advises parents and guardians to maintain the personal hygiene of their children. In particular, they have to teach their children about good hygiene because we don’t yet know whether this infection can be caused by the environment or food poisoning or by other substances,” she said.

She advised that hand hygiene is still an important factor for protecting the health of children and adults, but especially the supply of food for children must be hygienic.

Food should be cooked well because the disease has appeared in otherwise healthy children and a food-borne vector was suspected because children had symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain and jaundice of the skin and eyes as well as discoloration of the stool, she said.

The ministry’s Communicable Disease Control Department (CDC) said in early May that the CDC was now working with health departments across the country to identify children with this unknown form of hepatitis.

Nevertheless, health experts globally do not yet know what the exact cause of the hepatitis is because the adenovirus implicated is a common virus that causes symptoms like the common cold or flu with stomach and intestinal problems.

“It was not previously the cause of severe hepatitis in healthy children, although it has been linked to more serious disease in children with weakened immune systems,” the CDC said.

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Education’ a priority traffic-law penalty

    A top National Police official on June 21 neither rejected nor confirmed the authenticity of a leaked audio message, which has gone viral on social media, on a waiver of fines for a number of road traffic-related offences. General Him Yan, deputy National Police chief in

  • Pursat Ford assembly plant opens

    The Kingdom’s first Ford assembly plant was inaugurated on June 16 in Pursat province amid rising demand for brand-new vehicles among Cambodians. The facility is seen as a game changer for the domestic automobile industry, which could bring a wave of investors seeking to cash

  • Siem Reap’s $18M zoo said to educate public, help wildlife

    Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium Co Ltd has invested $18 million in a zoo in Siem Reap province, which will be opened in October to educate and promote animal conservation as well as attract national and international tourists. Currently, the Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium is building the

  • Volunteer scheme to foster ‘virtuous’ humanitarian spirit

    A senior education official said volunteer work contributes to solidarity and promotes a virtuous humanitarian spirit among the youth and communities. Serei Chumneas, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, made the comment during the opening of a training programme called “

  • $50B infrastructure plan en route

    The government’s upcoming $50 billion,10-year infrastructure master plan will provide tremendous investment opportunities for domestic and foreign entities, transport experts and economists say. Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol revealed the plan to Japanese ambassador to Cambodia Masahiro Mikami on June 15. At

  • Chinese firms unveil preliminary results on metro, monorail for capital

    Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol and representatives from China Road and Bridge Corp (CRBC) and its parent company, the state-owned China Communications Construction Co Ltd (CCCC), met on June 24 for talks on results of the firms’ preliminary study on a potential metro