The first suspected case of acute hepatitis of unknown origin in Puerto Rico affects a girl who is confined in a hospital in San Juanknew yesterday The new day.
Although the Health Department It did not offer further details of the case, limiting itself to reporting that it is “a child under five years old”, this newspaper learned that the girl is two years old, and is receiving treatment for a liver transplant.
“We are observing a patient (with suspected acute hepatitis of unknown origin)”, said the Secretary of Health, Carlos Mellado.
Los Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, in English) have already been notified of the case for meeting similar criteria to the more than 200 minors who have been affected with a similar picture in 20 countries. According to Salud, the cases under investigation have arisen since last October, and they are children between 0 and 16 years old who have high levels of liver enzymes (AST or ALT), with an unknown cause for their hepatitis.
“Because of how quickly it emerged, the symptoms and its presentation, it could be (a case of this type) and it was sent to the CDC (for investigation),” said Gerardo Tosca, president of the Puerto Rican Society of Pediatrics. .
According to Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), hepatitis is inflammation of the liver and arises from different causes, such as infection, drug or substance intoxication. When the inflammation occurs rapidly and acutely, it is a case of acute hepatitis.
“So far, laboratory tests exclude that they are cases of known viral hepatitis. In many cases, an adenovirus infection was found in children and the link between these two is being investigated as one of the hypotheses about the underlying causes,” reports PAHO.
Adenovirus is a common virus that can cause respiratory symptoms, vomiting, or diarrhea.
“The important thing is to recognize the symptoms: abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, jaundice or yellowing of the skin and mucous membranes, and elevated liver enzymes,” Tosca said.
He warned that to date 10% of the identified cases have required a transplant, while one death has already been reported in an affected minor in Alabama. However, he indicated that most cases have responded to treatment.
The pediatrician admitted that parents of his patients have already asked him about this disease, due to the information that has transpired and the similarity of the symptoms with other viruses.
Víctor Ramos, outgoing president of the College of Surgeons, said, meanwhile, that one of the concerns is that the cases have arisen in healthy minors, without complications or previous health conditions.
“The Puerto Rican Society of Pediatrics and the (local) chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics are preparing webinars (on these cases) for pediatricians,” he reported.
He added that it was known that if there were already cases identified in the United States, they would eventually reach Puerto Rico. It has not been reported, however, whether the suspected case on the island had a travel history. In the United States, possible cases are being investigated in Alabama, Delaware, Illinois, New York, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Georgia, Louisiana, Minnesota and Tennessee.
“It is important that if you have a child with a fever, vomiting and diarrhea, you take them to an emergency room and they can do a blood chemistry test and see if they have (elevated) liver enzymes or not. So, Health is reported and we report to the CDC to have a profile of what is happening,” Mellado said.