Spain reports first deaths from acute hepatitis in children

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Spain you reported his first two deaths from acute hepatitis, or inflammation of the liver, in children – a disease whose causes are unknown and which is monitored by global health authorities.

Spain’s health ministry said 46 cases of the disease have been reported in Spain and three liver transplants needed.

Of the three transplant patients, two died – a 15-month-old baby in June and a 6-year-old in July.

A woman and her 7 month old son are waiting for a liver transplant.

A woman and her 7 month old son are waiting for a liver transplant.
(Juancho Torres/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

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The ministry said in a statement on Thursday that 507 cases had been reported in 21 european countries to July 28, including 273 in Great Britain.

A pediatrician vaccinates a child with a 6-way combination vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus (tetanus), poliomyelitis, whooping cough, Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) and hepatitis B.

A pediatrician vaccinates a child with a 6-way combination vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus (tetanus), poliomyelitis, whooping cough, Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) and hepatitis B.
(Julian Stratenschulte/dpa (Photo by Julian Stratenschulte/picture alliance via Getty Images))

In the United States, there have been at least 180 cases and six reported deaths.

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Health officials remain puzzled as to what causes hepatitis and say the best available evidence points to a stomach bug that is not known to cause liver problems in otherwise healthy children.

Spain says it began monitoring the situation closely following an alert to the World Health Organization by Britain following a spike in cases.

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The ministry said that so far it has not noticed an increase in the number of cases of this type of hepatitis compared to estimates made with data from previous years.