Hepatitis among children caused by COVID? UP webinar explores the mystery

| Written by Deina Blancaflor

Viral hepatitis is a significant cause of mortality globally, mainly due to Hepatitis B and C viruses. The primary intervention is childhood vaccination, given at birth and in three subsequent doses.

In mid-April 2022, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported severe acute hepatitis, or inflammation of the liver, of unknown origin among children below age 16. Initially, 163 cases were reported mainly from the United Kingdom, Spain, Israel, the U.S.A., Denmark, Ireland, and other European countries. Since then, patients have been significantly increasing, according to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control. The worldwide report is now 450, including 11 deaths in Indonesia, Palestine, and the United States.

This form of hepatitis seems to be caused by the adenovirus, which rarely causes liver inflammation. Some posit that a percentage of these children who test positive for adenovirus previously tested positive for SARS-CoV-2.

Earlier data in the Philippines point to the endemicity of Hepatitis B and C, with a Hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) prevalence of about 17% among adults in the early 2000s.

Will this new health issue come to our country? Are we prepared to manage these cases when our response to Hepatitis B and C leaves much to be desired?

The University of the Philippines (UP), in partnership with UP Manila National Institutes of Health (UP-NIH), the UP National Telehealth Center (NTC), and in cooperation with UP Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH), invite you to join the fight against C.O.V.I.D. – which stands for “Current COVID-19 problems, Other outbreaks, Viruses, Infections, and Disasters”, on Friday, May 20, from 12nn to 2 pm.

Titled “MYSTERIOUS HEPTATITIS: May kinalaman ba sa COVID-19?”, the latest episode of UP’s “Stop COVID Deaths” webinar series lets us take a closer look at how a novel hepatitis-like disease could impact the current programs on hepatitis prevention and control, and how we can find ways to detect, test, treat, and manage this if it comes to our shores. We will also review what we know about hepatitis, the basics, vaccination, treatment, and referral.

Our experts for this webinar are: Dr. Juliet Sio-Aguilar, a pediatric gastroenterologist, former Professor of Pediatrics at UP Manila, and an active consultant at St. Luke’s Medical Center; and Dr. Eternity D. Labio, a gastroenterologist and hepatologist who is Head of the Liver Unit at the Makati Medical Center. Synthesis and closing remarks will be delivered by Dr. Stella Marie L. Jose, Deputy Director for Health Operations at the UP-PGH.

Register here and catch our weekly live tweets and streams via the UP System Twitter Account and T.V.U.P.’s YouTube channel and Facebook page. Join us as we learn about the latest anti-viral drugs and how treatment plays a critical role in controlling the pandemic.

The award-winning UP “Stop COVID Deaths” webinar series is the Philippines’ first and only frontline-focused medical webinar series. It pioneered the discussion, dissemination, and adoption of knowledge on COVID-19 treatment and management. Follow our accounts to stay connected with your credible online community.