A pediatrician attends to a baby in a file image. / EUROPA PRESS

Two of Spain's cases of acute hepatitis in children are in Andalucía

Between 1 January and 22 April this year 13 cases were detected in the country, and eight of them meet the criteria for further investigation. The UK has 108 confirmed cases


Two cases of severe non-affiliated hepatitis were detected in children under the age of 16 in Andalucía between 1 January and 22 April this year, according to a report from the Spanish Ministry of Health’s Alerts and Emergencies Coordination Centre. One case has been confirmed and the other is considered probable.

In Spain as a whole 13 cases were detected during that period, of which eight meet the criteria established by the UK as confirmed cases which merit further investigation, and the other five are considered probable. The UK was the first country in which cases of hepatitis such as these were detected in children.

Acute hepatitis of unknown cause

On 5 April, the UK notified the World Health Organisation of 10 cases of acute hepatitis of unknown cause in previously healthy children under the age of 10 in the central belt of Scotland. In nine of those cases, the symptoms began in March, and in the other, they started in January.

By 20 April, 108 confirmed cases had been registered in the UK: 79 in England, 14 in Scotland, 11 in Wales and 4 in Northern Ireland.

The cases were not related to each other. Fifty-five per cent were girls under the age of 10 (87% were aged between one and five). Eight of the children needed a liver transplant, and none have died.

Trip to UK

In Spain, the eight confirmed cases (three boys and five girls, aged between 18 months and seven years) began to suffer symptoms between 2 January and 24 March and lived in the Madrid region, Catalonia (2), Galicia (2), Andalucía, Castilla-La Mancha and Aragón. None have any relationship with any of the others; one had made a trip to the UK, and in one case the child tested positive for adenovirus.

Liver transplant

The children in Spain have recovered well, although one needed a liver transplant. The five probable cases, aged between 12 and 16 and with an onset of symptoms between 30 December and 1 April, live in Catalonia (3), Andalucía (1) and Murcia (1). The incidence of non-affiliated hepatitis in Spain between 2016 and 2020, according to official figures, ranged from four to ten cases a year.

If other related diagnostic categories are included, the average would be between 88 to 138 cases a year. “From the information we have received so far, up until now we have not observed a significant increase in cases of acute failure or severe acute hepatitis in children in Spain,” says the Ministry of Health.