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Canada now has 10 confirmed cases of severe hepatitis in kids. Here’s what to watch for – Global News



The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) has confirmed 10 cases of acute severe hepatitis in children.

The agency posted an update on their website Friday, confirming three cases in Alberta, two in Manitoba, four in Ontario, and one in Quebec.

The children, who are between one and 13 years old, became sick between November 3, 2021 and April 23, 2022, according to PHAC.

Read more:

Adenovirus leading hypothesis for severe hepatitis in children, CDC says

All of the diagnosed children were hospitalized. Two of them needed liver transplants. No deaths have been reported so far.

Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. Depending on the cause, the agency says the disease can be sudden and progress to liver failure over a few days to weeks.

“Some types of hepatitis can be treated and most cases recover. Acute, severe hepatitis in children is a rare condition in Canada, and in many cases, an underlying or contributing cause is not known,” the website states.

What is causing severe acute hepatitis in children?

The health agency says that the exact cause for this illness is not yet known, and investigators are still considering the possible causes of acute hepatitis.

However, one possible cause being explored is adenovirus, a common virus, which is known to cause cold or flu-like illness or gastroenteritis in children who are infected.

Investigators are also looking into other possible contributing factors such as exposure to toxins or other infections.

Click to play video: 'Health Matters: World Family Doctor Day and what’s causing severe hepatitis cases among children?'

Health Matters: World Family Doctor Day and what’s causing severe hepatitis cases among children?

Health Matters: World Family Doctor Day and what’s causing severe hepatitis cases among children?

Could COVID-19 be the cause of hepatitis in kids?

COVID-19 may be behind the severe hepatitis cases in children according to a report posted last Saturday on medRxiv ahead of peer review.

Children with COVID-19 are at significantly increased risk for liver dysfunction afterward, the report said.

But most of the children with acute hepatitis did not report a previous COVID-19 infection. Instead, the majority were found to be infected with an adenovirus called 41F, which is not known to attack the liver.

READ MORE: Canada detects severe hepatitis of ‘unknown origin’ cases in kids. What is it?

It is possible that affected children, many of whom were too young to be vaccinated, may have had mild or asymptomatic COVID infections that went unnoticed, a separate team of researchers suggested in The Lancet Gastroenterology & Hepatology.

If that’s true, lingering particles of the coronavirus in the gastrointestinal tract in these children could be priming the immune system to overreact to adenovirus-41F with high amounts of inflammatory proteins that ultimately damage the liver, the researchers theorized.

Side effects from COVID-19 vaccines however, are not suspected since the vast majority of the affected children were too young to receive COVID-19 shots, according to the World Health Organization.

What are the symptoms?

The government has provided a list of symptoms parents should look for in their kids on their website.

They include yellowing of the skin or eyes, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, dark urine, light-colored stools, loss of appetite, fever, and fatigue.

The government is also advising parents to encourage children to wash their hands often, avoid people who are sick, and avoid touching their eyes, nose or mouth.

What is Canada’s health agency doing?

The PHAC says it’s working with provinces, territories and international partners to investigate any reported cases of acute severe hepatitis in children not caused by known hepatitis viruses.

“All provinces and territories are working to identify and report potential cases to PHAC. This will help to further define the national scope in Canada, and help determine if cases in Canada are related to other cases reported around the world,” the agency stated.

READ MORE: 348 probable cases of acute hepatitis in children reported globally: WHO

At this time, the agency does not know if there has been a spike in acute severe hepatitis cases in children “not caused by known hepatitis viruses.”

“We are analyzing Canadian hospitalization data to determine the number of cases that we would normally see in Canada over time. This baseline information will allow us to determine if we are seeing an increase in cases reported,” the agency said.

Click to play video: 'WHO says at least 228 probable cases of child hepatitis reported, more under investigation'

WHO says at least 228 probable cases of child hepatitis reported, more under investigation

WHO says at least 228 probable cases of child hepatitis reported, more under investigation – May 3, 2022

Severe hepatitis cases around the world

Reuters reported on May 20 that at least 600 children in at least 34 countries have developed cases of sudden severe liver inflammation or acute hepatitis.

As of May 18, at least 175 children in the UK and 180 in the United States have become sick since October 2021, the majority of them younger than five-years-old.

Click to play video: '7 probable cases of severe acute hepatitis in kids reported at Toronto’s SickKids Hospital'

7 probable cases of severe acute hepatitis in kids reported at Toronto’s SickKids Hospital

7 probable cases of severe acute hepatitis in kids reported at Toronto’s SickKids Hospital – May 10, 2022

In the United States, more than 90 per cent of affected children have been hospitalized. Most have recovered, but at least five died, according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Worldwide, more than two dozen children have needed liver transplants.

Most cases have been reported since April.

—With files from Reuters 

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Kingston, Ont., area health officials examining future of local vaccination efforts – Global News



More than 455,000 people in the Kingston region have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

Now health officials say they’re using the summer months, with low infection rates, to look ahead to what fall might bring, urging those who are still eligible to get vaccinated do so.

Read more:

Kingston Health Sciences Centre to decommission COVID-19 field site

“Large, mass immunization clinics, mobile clinics, drive-thru clinics and small primary care clinics doing their own vaccine,” said Brian Larkin with KFL&A Public Health.

Infectious disease expert Dr. Gerald Evans says those who are still eligible for a third and fourth dose should take advantage and roll up their sleeves during the low-infection summer months.

“Now in 2022, although you still might get COVID, you’re probably not going to be very sick. You are less likely to transmit and ultimately that’s one of the ways we’re going to control the pandemic,” added Evans.

He expects another wave of COVID-19 to hit in late October to early November and that a booster may be made available for those younger than 60 who still aren’t eligible for a fourth dose.

Read more:

Kingston, Ont. COVID assessment centre cuts hours for the summer

“The best case scenario is a few more years of watching rises in cases, getting boosters to control things and ultimately getting out of it with this being just another coronavirus that just tends to cause a respiratory infection and worst-case scenario is a new variant where all the potential possibilities exist to have a big surge in cases and hopefully not a lot more serious illness,” said Evans.

Public Health says they’re still waiting for direction from the province on what’s to come this fall.

“We’re expecting that we would see more age groups and younger age groups be eligible for more doses or boosters but about when those ages start, we have yet to have that confirmed,” said Larkin.

The last 18 months of vaccines paving the way for the new normal could mean a yearly COVID booster alongside the annual flu shot.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Monkeypox detected in Norfolk County | – Hamilton Spectator



The monkeypox virus has found its way to Norfolk County.

The health unit announced on Friday that a Norfolk resident has tested positive and is currently isolating at home.

Contacts of the infected resident have been notified, according to a media release from the health unit.

“There is no increased risk of monkeypox to the general public stemming from this case,” acting medical officer of health Dr. Matt Strauss said in the release.

“Outside of an emergency situation, if you have symptoms of monkeypox, it is important to stay home and call your doctor to be assessed. When seeking medical care, you should wear a high-quality medical mask and cover up all lesions and open sores.”

Monkeypox is spread by direct physical contact, most often by touching a rash on an infected person’s skin but sometimes through “respiratory secretions” if in close proximity for a prolonged period, the health unit said.

“Most people infected with monkeypox will have mild symptoms and recover on their own without treatment,” said the release.

Symptoms lasting between two and four weeks can include fever, headache, swollen lymph nodes, low energy, muscle aches, skin rash or lesions, sometimes starting on the face or genitals and spreading elsewhere.

The health unit says symptoms usually start between six and 13 days of exposure to the virus.

The Halton region recorded its first confirmed case of monkeypox earlier this month.

Close contacts of monkeypox patients are eligible to receive the smallpox vaccine, which also provides protection against monkeypox.

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Mass vaccination campaign against Monkeypox needed, experts say – Global News



As the World Health Organization calculates whether to declare monkeypox a global health emergency, infectious disease experts are urging health officials to be more proactive and start ramping up vaccinations and surveillance — especially in African nations where the virus is most prevalent.

The WHO convened its emergency committee Thursday to consider whether the spiralling outbreak of monkeypox should be declared a “public health emergency of international concern,” the WHO’s highest level of alert.

But the United Nations agency is facing criticism over its treatment of monkeypox — jumping into action only after the disease started to spread in rich western nations.

Read more:

WHO to discuss declaring monkeypox outbreak a global health emergency

The viral disease that causes flu-like symptoms and skin lesions is endemic in parts of Africa, which means it is consistently present in certain regions. The continent has registered just over 1,500 suspected cases since the start of 2022, of which 70 have been fatal, according to the WHO.

By comparison, Canada has confirmed over 200 cases, the majority of which are in Quebec, and has had no deaths.

“There are more cases that occur in Africa on a yearly basis than have already been reported outside of Africa right now. And there are more deaths that have occurred in Africa from monkeypox than have occurred in the rest of the world,” said Dr. Sameer Elsayed, an infectious disease physician and professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at Western University.

Read more:

Monkeypox in Canada: 211 confirmed cases reported across the country

That’s why he believes Africa should be getting the lion’s share of resources to deal with monkeypox — and that should include mass vaccinations, he says.

“I think Africa needs to be looked at with high, high priority,” he said.

“It needs to be a mass vaccination campaign for monkeypox with the newer vaccines for people in the African continent, especially in the high endemic areas.”

He’s not alone.

Dr. Monica Gandhi, a physician and infectious disease expert at the University of California, San Francisco, says she also believes more people living in regions where monkeypox is more prevalent should be vaccinated.

“That will actually stop it in endemic regions in this non-endemic outbreak.”

That the WHO is only now taking monkeypox seriously is “profoundly problematic,” Gandhi says, given that the disease has been spreading and killing people in Central and West Africa for years.

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Monkeypox has about half of Canadians worried, but most confident with health response: poll

Monkeypox has about half of Canadians worried, but most confident with health response: poll – Jun 17, 2022

“It’s been circulating since 1958. There are increasing outbreaks — a severe one in Nigeria, for example in 2017 — and it’s only really essentially when this has affected high-income countries that the WHO is jumping on it.”

Experts who have worked on monkeypox in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo have long taken note of rising cases while population immunity to pox viruses has been decreasing, due to lack of vaccination. This is why the world shouldn’t be surprised at the current outbreaks, said Anne Rimoin, an epidemiology professor at UCLA in California, who has studied monkeypox for two decades.

The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated how quickly a deadly virus can spread across the globe when the right conditions are present, so health officials ought to learn from this and start being more proactive, she said.

“When it comes to infectious diseases, in particular those viruses that have the potential for global spread, it’s much easier to stay out of trouble than it is to have to get out of trouble.”

In addition to providing vaccines, health officials should also be ramping up resources to study this disease and do more surveillance to get a better understanding of monkeypox and learn why it is spreading in new and unusual ways, Rimoin said.

Read more:

Monkeypox outbreak: Case count rises to more than 3,200 globally, says WHO

“We’ve given this virus a lot of runway to be able to spread. We have not been looking for it as vigilantly as we should be,” she said.

“I think we have to learn the lessons that we’ve learned with COVID-19 and that it is much better to invest ahead of time to get in front of these viruses, to do the kind of surveillance it’s necessary to be regularly updating our knowledge about viruses.”

Good disease surveillance is just as important in poorer countries as it is in “high-resource settings,” she added.

Like many countries around the world, Canada and the United States stopped vaccinating the general population against smallpox by around 1972, which means many on this continent are highly susceptible to pox viruses like monkeypox.

Given that scientists expect to see more emerging infectious diseases due to factors such as climate change, deforestation and globalization, the world should start getting better prepared for new outbreaks, Elsayed said.

Read more:

Monkeypox has Canadian researchers scrambling. Why, and how contagious is it?

This is why, in addition to calling for vaccinations and more resources to fight monkeypox in Africa, Elsayed believes governments in developed nations should also consider more options to protect citizens from pox viruses, including possibly re-introducing mass smallpox vaccinations.

“I believe that these vaccines should come on board again for the general population … but not (just) for monkeypox, but also to protect the world against perhaps a smallpox pandemic that can happen in the future, or even another virus that’s closely related to monkeypox but hasn’t reached humans,” Elsayed said.

He stressed this should only be considered after addressing the more pressing needs in Africa first.

Click to play video: 'WHO looks into reports of traces of monkeypox found in semen'

WHO looks into reports of traces of monkeypox found in semen

WHO looks into reports of traces of monkeypox found in semen – Jun 15, 2022

Rimoin noted that when the world stopped vaccinating against smallpox, it opened a “gap of immunity” for populations to once again be vulnerable to it. And with the emergence of a number of new pox viruses in different parts of the globe, including mousepox, cowpox and camelpox, the world is not immune to new outbreaks, she said.

“We now have to really think about, How important is it for us to be able to keep pox viruses out of the population?” she said. “What are the stakes of allowing this virus to spread? And then acting accordingly.”

-With files from Global News reporter Reggie Checcini and Reuters.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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