The Health Ministry (KKM) has intensified surveillance for acute hepatitis in all clinics and hospitals following a worldwide spike in cases of severe acute hepatitis of unknown origin in children.
In a statement, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin urged general practitioners to refer children aged between one month and below 18 years, who show symptoms for jaundice and acute hepatitis to hospitals for further case management.
He said the symptoms include loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, fatigue and dark urine.
Meanwhile, Khairy also urged parents or guardians of children who experience symptoms related to acute hepatitis as mentioned to immediately seek treatment at a nearby health facility.
He added that the ministry will continue to monitor the situation of Acute Hepatitis of Unknown Aetiology among children and would inform the latest development from time to time.
Khairy revealed that as of this time, there has been an 11-year-old boy with symptoms of acute hepatitis who sought treatment from a hospital in Sabah last month.
“The boy had symptoms of jaundice, fever, lack of appetite, nausea and vomiting. It was reported that the boy received a liver transplant on 30 March at a hospital in Klang Valley after this condition deteriorated.”
“He was discharged in good health on 21 April,” Khairy said, adding that the ministry is currently developing a reference and management protocol for severe acute hepatitis of unknown origin cases.
On 23 April, the World Health Organisation (WHO), through the WHO Event Information Site (EIS) reported at least 169 acute hepatitis of unknown aetiology cases among children aged between one month and 16 years, from 21 countries, as of 21 April.
“The United Kingdom reported the highest cases at 114. Other countries are Spain, Israel, the United States, Denmark, Ireland, Italy, Holland, France, Norway, Belgium and Romania. So far, only one death was reported,” Khairy said.
He added the common viruses that cause acute viral hepatitis (hepatitis viruses A, B, C, D and E) have not been detected through laboratory tests in any of these cases.
WHO has reported that 169 cases of Adenovirus positive have been detected in at least 74 cases and 20 cases detected with SARS-CoV-2. However, the cause of acute hepatitis has not been confirmed and is still under investigation.
WHO also estimated about 10% of the 169 cases reported required a liver transplant.