Beware of the resurgence of acute hepatitis with unknown etiology

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Hepatitis
ILLUSTRATION: AGUNG WAHYUDI

Jakarta, IO – As the Covid-19 pandemic continues, the world is again stunned with the resurgence of acute and sudden hepatitis with unknown etiology in multiple countries, starting in January of this year. The disease struck down babies as young as a month old, and teenagers up to 16 years of age. The WHO announced that this is an Extraordinary Occurrence, and that they are investigating the causes of this mysterious outbreak. 

In Indonesia, the Ministry of Health issued Circular Number HK.02.02/C/2515/2022, an Alert for the Discovery of Cases of Acute Hepatitis of Unknown Etiology, through its Directorate General of Disease Prevention and Control, on 27 April 2022. Minister of Health Budi Gunadi Sadikin declared that 15 new cases of this etiologically unclear acute hepatitis illnesses were found up to Monday (9/5/2022). The cases were “etiologically unclear” because nobody yet knows what their cause might be, only that it is a type of hepatitis – unlike the other types of extant hepatitis (A, B, C, D, and E) caused by the HAV, HBV, HCV, HDV, and HEV viruses, respectively. 

The Indonesian Pediatricians’ Association (Ikatan Dokter Anak Indonesia – “IDAI”) discussed the theme “Beware of Acute Hepatitis in Children” in their “Tanya IDAI” (“Ask IDAI”) live IG session held last Sunday (08/05/2022). In the online discussion, Dr. dr. Muzal Kadim, Sp.A(K), a pediatrician specializing in gastroenterology and hepatology consultancy in Pondok Indah Hospital, Jakarta, announced that WHO reports show that the new acute hepatitis is absolutely unrelated to the Hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E viruses that we knew. “It is also unrelated to adenovirus, which causes mild acute diarrhea. Its suspected causes are fecal and oral droplets. Its initial symptoms are similar to those of digestive disorders – diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, stomach ache, and fever. As we don’t know what causes it yet, it will be much better to prevent its spread, especially by maintaining the cleanliness of our food and eating utensils,” he said.