Gaza child dies after contracting unexplained hepatitis

At least 228 probable case of acute hepatitis in children have been reported to the WHO so far.

 Palestinian technicians work in a laboratory at Al Awda Hospital, a private medical facility in the northern Gaza Strip, March 30, 2017 (photo credit: MOHAMMED SALEM/REUTERS)
Palestinian technicians work in a laboratory at Al Awda Hospital, a private medical facility in the northern Gaza Strip, March 30, 2017
(photo credit: MOHAMMED SALEM/REUTERS)

A child in Gaza died on Tuesday after contracting an unexplained case of acute hepatitis - inflammation of the liver - the Health Ministry in Gaza announced, as the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that at least 228 probable cases of child hepatitis have been reported worldwide.

Last week, the Gaza Health Ministry reported a case of unexplained acute hepatitis in an eight-year-old child. It is as of yet unclear if the child who died on Tuesday is the same child who was diagnosed last week.

"As of May 1, at least 228 probable cases were reported to WHO from 20 countries with over 50 additional cases under investigation," the WHO's Tarik Jasarevic told a Geneva press briefing on Tuesday.

Last month, the Israeli Health Ministry reported that 12 children under the age of five had been diagnosed with acute hepatitis in recent months.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a study on Friday shared that nine children diagnosed with acute hepatitis in Alabama tested positive for adenovirus, with some of the children having adenovirus type 41, which often causes pediatric acute gastroenteritis.

 Hepatitis A virus (HVA) causes acute inflammation of the liver and is the most common of all forms of viral hepatitis (credit: ALAIN GRILLET/FLICKR) Hepatitis A virus (HVA) causes acute inflammation of the liver and is the most common of all forms of viral hepatitis (credit: ALAIN GRILLET/FLICKR)

The CDC stated that it believes that adenovirus may be the cause for the cases of acute hepatitis, but added that other potential environmental and situational factors are still being investigated. Adenovirus type 41 is not usually known as a cause of hepatitis in otherwise healthy children. No known epidemiological link or common exposures have been found among the children.

The CDC has ruled out hepatitis viruses A, B, and C, SARS-CoV-2 infection, autoimmune hepatitis and Wilson disease as potential causes. Wisconsin, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, New York, North Carolina and Tennessee have also reported cases of unexplained acute hepatitis in children.

Reuters contributed to this report.