Officials confirm 10 cases of severe, unexplained hepatitis among Canadian children

Ten children in Canada were found to be suffering from severe and mysterious cases of hepatitis over a recent five-month period, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), following an investigation into unexplained liver inflammation in children. 

The cases of “acute severe hepatitis” did not stem from the usual viruses — such as hepatitis A, B, C and E — or any other clear cause, PHAC said in a statement Friday. 

All the children were hospitalized and two needed liver transplants, the statement said. Three of the cases were in Alberta, two in Manitoba, four in Ontario and one was in Quebec.

The children were all between one and 13 years old and became sick between Nov. 3, 2021 and April 2, the agency said. 

Earlier this month, PHAC said it was investigating more than a dozen possible cases of severe liver disease of unknown origin among children in Canada, amid mysterious hepatitis outbreak that has affected nearly 200 youths around the world. The World Health Organization (WHO) is also investigating. 

Some researchers have pointed to COVID-19 and adenovirus — a family of viruses that typically cause cold- or flu-like illness — as possible suspects. 

PHAC says its investigation is very broad, and counts any children with liver inflammations of uncertain cause.

The agency says it’s working with all provinces and territories to identify possible cases by asking them to look for patients dating back to October last year, which matches with the timeframe of the WHO’s international investigation. 

PHAC urges parents to contact health-care providers if they notice symptoms of hepatitis in their children, which includes yellowing of the skin and eyes, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, dark urine, loss of appetite, fever and fatigue. 

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