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Unexplained hepatitis cases in kids rise to 348 in 20 nations

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At a World Health Organization (WHO) media telebriefing today on a variety of global health issues, officials said 348 probable cases of hepatitis in children, potentially linked to adenovirus, have been reported from 20 countries across five global regions.Phillipa Easterbrook, MD, MPH, senior scientist with the WHO, said 70 more cases from 13 countries are pending confirmation.

She said the cases reflect a mix of new and retrospective cases and that 6 countries have reported more than 5 cases.Over the past week, a team led by scientists from the United Kingdom has refined its hypotheses, with the leading one still suggesting adenovirus as a cause but also including a COVID-19 infection cofactor.

So far, histologic examinations of liver tissue haven't shown liver inflammation due to adenovirus, she said, adding that the next focus is serologic testing to assess previous exposure to SARS-CoV-2.In an outbreak update on Apr 23, the WHO said, "While adenovirus is currently one hypothesis as the underlying cause, it does not fully explain the severity of the clinical picture.

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