An Australian doctor says children who weren’t exposed to typical viruses due to COVID-19 lockdowns could explain the mysterious hepatitis cases in children.
Peter Collignon, a microbiologist and infectious diseases expert, said lockdowns during the pandemic may have reduced kids’ exposure to adenoviruses – common viruses that can cause cold-like symptoms, including fevers and sore throats.
“If you get infections when you’re very young, you seem to have better immune protection,” he told Daily Mail Australia.
Alarming outbreak of hepatitis in children may have been brought on by Covid lockdowns https://t.co/DfQW0hk8TR
— Daily Mail US (@DailyMail) April 26, 2022
A lack of exposure to a common virus during Covid restrictions could be behind the surge in hepatitis cases among young children, experts say https://t.co/KYMM5OKl5z
— Bloomberg (@business) April 26, 2022
'During lockdown children's immunity wasn't the level you might expect in normal times'
— GB News (@GBNEWS) April 26, 2022
Daily Mail reported:
Being exposed to adenoviruses at a slightly later stage could cause children’s immune systems to overreact and trigger hepatitis – also known as liver inflammation.
Hepatitis type A and E are usually contracted as a result of poor hygiene – when a person consumes food or drink contaminated with small particles of infected faeces.
But according to the British broadcaster, scientists say it is increasingly likely adenoviruses are responsible among the new cases.
Prof. Collignon said there has not been a spike in hepatitis infections among Australian children, but warned ‘it’s entirely possible it could happen’.
‘The BBC article is speculative – these are theories and they will be explored,’ he said.
‘Hepatitis is a serious condition and we do need to sort it out.’
Another scenario being investigated is whether there has been a change in the genetic make-up of the adenovirus that could mean liver inflammation is more easily triggered.
None of the impacted children were vaccinated against Covid-19, ruling out any link between vaccines and hepatitis.
Despite the rise of hepatitis cases internationally, Mr Collignon said the number of people who have the condition is still very small, but urged parents to watch for symptoms.
People with the liver condition will experience yellowing skin and eyes, and very dark urine.
‘If anyone is worried, see a doctor or go to hospital,’ he added.
Undoubtedly, weakened immunity is a catastrophic consequence of lockdowns for young children with developing immune systems.
School closures and restrictions limited typical exposure a child needs to build their natural immunity to infectious diseases.
Hepatitis A is passed through fecal-oral contact and it can spread to children in the following ways:
- Eating food made by an infected person who didn’t wash their hands thoroughly after using the bathroom.
- Touching an infected person’s feces or dirty diaper and then putting your hands near your mouth. This can result in outbreaks in child care centers.
- Drinking water contaminated by infected feces, which is common in developing countries.
- International travel to areas where hepatitis A is common.
- Blood transfusions, but this is very rare.
While health officials are still investigating possible causes, it’s currently believed “the most likely” trigger was an adenovirus.
There’s a high level of concern since transplants among the age group are extremely rare and it is crucial to understand the cause to prevent more cases from happening.
While some say the impacted children weren’t inoculated against COVID-19, it’s worth noting Pfizer’s documents list hepatitis as a potential adverse reaction of the experimental shot.