JAKARTA, May 7 (Jakarta Post/ANN): The Health Ministry said it is investigating the deaths of three children in Jakarta which it says may be linked to a mysterious hepatitis outbreak that has sickened hundreds of children in at least 20 countries.
The three children, aged two, eight and 11, died at Cipto Mangunkusumo General Hospital (RSCM) between mid and late April after suffering from jaundice, diarrhea and vomiting – some of the symptoms that have also been found in clusters of unexplained hepatitis cases that have emerged among children around the world.
The three RSCM cases also presented with fever, nausea, seizures and loss of consciousness, Health Ministry spokeswoman Siti Nadia Tarmizi said in a statement on Monday.
They were referred from smaller hospitals in East Jakarta and West Jakarta. The deaths in Jakarta brought the global death toll to four, AFP reported.
The Ministry of Health suspects the cases to be acute hepatitis of unknown origin, although it warns that the investigation is ongoing.
Nadia said her office was still carrying out a full panel of virus tests to find out the causes of the infection, while the Jakarta Health Agency was carrying out an epidemiological investigation.
She urged people to stay calm but careful and maintain personal hygiene.
“[And] take children to the nearest health centers immediately if they have symptoms of jaundice [or yellowing of the skin and eyes]abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, dark urine, pale stools, as well as seizures and loss of consciousness,” she said.
The Health Ministry has also alerted local governments and health authorities across the country to the mysterious illness, asking them to monitor and report any suspected cases of unexplained acute hepatitis in children.
Emerging cases of acute hepatitis of unknown origin in children aged one month to 16 years have raised concern among global health communities.
On Sunday, at least 228 probable cases of hepatitis of unknown origin in children were reported to the World Health Organization by 20 countries, with “more than 50 additional cases under investigation”, the spokesman said. WHO, Tarik Jasarevic, to journalists in Geneva, quoted by AFP.
Most cases are from Europe, but there are others in the Americas, the Western Pacific and Southeast Asia, he said. Over 100 cases have now been recorded in the UK.
Some cases caused liver failure and required transplants. At least one child is known to have previously died, AFP reported.
In many cases, the children developed gastrointestinal symptoms, including abdominal pain, diarrhea and vomiting, followed by signs of liver inflammation, abnormally high levels of liver enzymes and jaundice, according to the latest WHO document dated April 23 on its website.
According to the WHO, no common virus responsible for viral hepatitis A, B, C, D and E had been detected in any of the first 169 cases reported at the time.
Instead, adenovirus – one of a group of common viruses that often cause cold-like symptoms – has been detected in at least 74 cases. The WHO said that while adenovirus was currently hypothesized as the underlying cause, it “did not fully explain the severity of the clinical picture”.
“Although adenovirus is a possible hypothesis, investigations are ongoing for the causative agent,” he added. Adenoviruses are typically spread through close personal contact, respiratory droplets, and surfaces.
There are more than 50 types of adenoviruses, which most often cause the common cold, but also many other diseases.
The UK Health Security Agency released an update on an ongoing investigation on Friday which suggested the significant increase in adenovirus infections, particularly among children, may be due to low levels of circulation during the coronavirus pandemic. COVID-19.
In response to the emergence of the acute disease, the Association of Indonesian Doctors (IDI) and the Association of Indonesian Pediatricians (IDAI) have asked doctors, health workers and pediatricians from both organizations to be cautious about to any symptoms of hepatitis found in their patients and to continuously monitor such cases. .
“The IDI and IDAI fully support the government and will coordinate with [our] physicians to investigate any suspected cases of acute hepatitis of unknown origin,” the groups said in a statement on Tuesday. – Jakarta Post/ANN