SickKids Hospital says seven probable cases of severe acute hepatitis have been reported at the downtown Toronto hospital for children.
The hospital said the cases are of “unknown origin” but do meet the “probable case definition to Public Health Ontario between October 1, 2021, and April 30, 2022.”
The news comes as there have been international reports concerning children with this illness that cause a sudden severe liver disease, often caused by viruses. Children impacted so far range in age from one month to 16 years.
SickKids Hospital said they are looking out for patients with signs and symptoms of hepatitis such as new onset jaundice (yellow eyes), dark urine and/or pale stool that will require further testing. They said they are also recommending a lower threshold for referral for specialist care.
“Every year, SickKids sees patients with severe acute hepatitis of unknown origin who, like the rest of our patient population, may come from across Ontario and Canada,” a spokesperson for the hospital told Global News.
“It remains to be seen whether this number represents an increase in cases of unknown origin compared to similar time periods in previous years or if any of these cases will be confirmed to be caused by a novel clinical entity.”
Most cases of this illness have occurred in Europe. The first U.K. cases were recorded in January, while the U.S. detected its first cases in October in Alabama.
Hepatitis is usually caused by one of several contagious hepatitis viruses, like A and B, which have not been found in the affected children.
— with files from Global News Aaron D’Andrea
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