Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
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May 2022 acute hepatitis outbreak, is there a role for COVID-19 and other viruses?

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-03, 16:56 authored by Reem Elbeltagi, Mohammed Al-Beltagi, Nermin Kamal Saeed, Adel Salah Bediwy, Osama Toema

There has been an increasing number of reported cases of acute hepatitis of unknown origin in previously healthy children since first reported on March 31, 2022. This clinical syndrome is identified by jaundice and markedly elevated liver enzymes with increased aspartate transaminase and/or alanine aminotransaminase (greater than 500 IU/L). We conducted an inclusive literature review with respect to acute hepatitis outbreaks in children using the search terms acute hepatitis, outbreak, children, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), and adenovirus. According to the cumulative data presented in four main studies, the median age is 4 years, with a male predominance (1.3:1). Jaundice was the most common clinical manifestation (69%), followed by vomiting (63%), anorexia (52.9%), diarrhea (47.2%), abdominal pain (39%), pyrexia (33.3%), pale stool (30%), and dark urine (30%). Coryza and lethargy were reported in 16.6%, while pruritus was reported in 2% of cases. Acute liver failure was observed in 25% of cases. The exact mechanism of this acute hepatitis outbreak is still not entirely clear. Adenoviruses and SARS-CoV-2 were detected in a significant number of patients. Coinfection with adenovirus and SARS-CoV-2 could be a possible underlying mechanism. However, other possible infections and mechanisms must be considered in the pathogenesis of this condition. Acute hepatitis of unknown origin in children has been a serious problem since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic but has not yet been sufficiently addressed. Many questions remain regarding the underlying mechanisms leading to acute liver failure in children, and it is likely that extensive future research is needed. 



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Published Citation

Elbeltagi R, Al-Beltagi M, Saeed NK, Bediwy AS, Toema O. May 2022 acute hepatitis outbreak, is there a role for COVID-19 and other viruses? World J Hepatol. 2023;15(3):364-376.

Publication Date

27 March 2023

PubMed ID



  • RCSI Bahrain


Baishideng Publishing Group Inc


  • Published Version (Version of Record)