The World Health Organization said Saturday that at least 169 cases of acute hepatitis have been identified in children aged between one month and 16 years, in an outbreak that now includes 11 countries.

Among the acute hepatitis cases, at least one child died, and 17 required liver transplants, the World Health Organization said in a press release.

The organization added in a statement: “It is not yet clear whether there is an increase in cases of hepatitis, or an increase in awareness of cases of hepatitis that occur at the expected rate, but are not detected,” explaining: “While adenovirus is a possible hypothesis, investigations are still pending.” Ongoing regarding the causative agent

The statement indicated that the clinical syndrome "among the cases identified is acute hepatitis, with a marked increase in liver enzymes."

Many people reported gastrointestinal symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, and vomiting "predating the onset of severe acute hepatitis", as well as increased levels of liver enzymes, or alanine aminotransferase, and yolk.
The organization said that the majority of reported cases did not have a fever, and common viruses that cause acute viral hepatitis, such as hepatitis A, B, C, D and E viruses, were not detected in any of these cases.

Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver, a vital organ that processes nutrients, purifies the blood, and helps fight infections.

When the liver is inflamed or damaged, its function can be affected.

Most often, hepatitis is caused by a virus. Adenoviruses are a common type of virus that spreads from person to person and can cause a range of mild to severe illnesses.

But these viruses are rarely reported to cause acute hepatitis in otherwise healthy people.