(Reuters) – The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday it had received 650 reports of probable cases of acute hepatitis in children, but added that the causes remain unknown and are under investigation.
As of May 26, 650 probable cases have been reported to WHO from 33 countries, with 99 additional cases pending classification, according to the WHO study.
Health authorities around the world are probing a mysterious increase in severe cases of hepatitis – inflammation of the liver – in young children that has resulted in at least nine deaths.
U.S. health officials said last week that infection with adenovirus, a common childhood virus, is the leading hypothesis for recent cases of severe hepatitis of unknown origin in children.
Hepatitis linked to this type of adenovirus has almost exclusively been associated with immunocompromised children.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also said it was investigating whether COVID-19 infections might be playing a role, as well as other pathogens, medications and risk factors.
(Reporting by Eva Mathews in Bengaluru; Editing by Amy Caren Daniel)