COVID-19: A possible cause of rapidly spreading hepatitis among children
Doctors in South Asia (especially India and Pakistan) and other medical specialists across the world are baffled by a puzzling rise in instances of mysterious hepatitis in youngsters who have tested positive for COVID-19, even while new infections of the virus are still at manageable levels.
According to research done in India, COVID Acquired Hepatitis (CAH) was found in 37 of 475 children who tested positive for COVID between April and July of 2021. Nausea, lack of appetite, and a slight fever are among the symptoms of CAH. A greater concentration of liver enzymes, known as transaminases, is seen, although there is no sign of inflammation. No additional hepatitis-causing factors, such as related viruses, are present. They all made a full recovery “uneventfully,” which means they were given the usual therapy for extreme hepatitis such as corticosteroids, dehydration, fever management, and vitamins.
According to Sumit Rawat, Associate Professor at Bundelkhand Medical College (BMC), Madhya Pradesh, “the number of instances of hepatitis has increased strangely. Hepatitis cases tend to surge during the start of the monsoon season. In the spring or summer of last year, we began to notice this in COVID-19 positive youngsters who were receiving follow-up care. In reality, the majority of them had fully recovered from their illness.”
“At a snail’s pace, we’re getting closer and closer to solving this challenge. I’m not sure we have enough information to conclude, “OK, that’s what we believe is happening,” said another researcher Jason Kindrachuk, Assistant Professor at the University of Manitoba Canada.
Medical professionals agree it’s merely a hunch, but they believe that COVID-19 induced the immune systems of the youngsters to “misfire” and opened the door for the transmission of hepatitis-causing pathogens like an adeno – associated virus or another “co-factor.” If you have a compromised immune system, adenovirus can produce a serious illness, which is often considered harmless on its own. Furthermore, it has also been reported that the vaccinated children were less likely to become infected, which suggests that COVID-19 immunization might be beneficial for young children.
However, hepatitis is still a mystery, and specialists believe that the numbers documented thus far are just a small fraction of the total number of cases. Less serious liver dysfunction may have gone unrecognized by the medical community. The investigators are looking into several different possibilities for the problem. You never know what you’re going to find here. Alternatively, it might be a new virus or a combination of current viruses that is creating a novel set of symptoms.
The medical authorities of the country must ponder on this mysterious spread of Hepatitis as it can be a challenge to our vulnerable society in terms of health which is already affected by COVID-19, dengue, and malaria. This is the ideal moment to teach youngsters about good hygiene habits. For example, students should wash their hands frequently and thoroughly before eating, use hand sanitizer, and understand the necessity of maintaining good personal hygiene. Awareness campaigns should be introduced throughout the country to educate children and their parents to adopt preventive measures and mitigate the spread of COVID-19 among children.
Schools and tuition centers must educate students about personal hygiene and WHO’s recommendations to develop a habit among youngsters. Furthermore, nutritional food and a proper intake of enough water are essential for a child’s well-being. Vitamin C-rich citrus fruits and vegetables (oranges, lemons, grapefruits) and foods high in vitamin D (cheese, egg yolks) should be provided, as should foods high in zinc (nuts, lentils, and beans).
Preventive measures are the only solution to this mysterious disease as Pakistan is already facing basic healthcare facilities and such novel diseases can further deteriorate the already worsening health situation in Pakistan. Government should make proper policies and their implementation must be ensured by the Ministry of National Health Services Regulations and Coordination.
–The writer is a
freelance journalist. He Tweets @UmerinamPk