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Spain reports first deaths from acute hepatitis in children

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Spain has reported its first two deaths from acute hepatitis in children, inflammation of the liver. The disease is of unknown cause and is monitored by global health authorities.

Spain’s health ministry said 46 cases of the disease had been reported in Spain, with three requiring liver transplants.

Two of the three transplant patients died. In June his 15 month old baby died and in July his 6 year old baby died.

A woman and her 7-month-old son awaiting a liver transplant.
(Juancho Torres/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

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In a statement on Thursday, the ministry said 21 European countries had reported 507 cases as of July 28, with 273 of them in the UK.

Pediatricians give children a combination of six vaccines against diphtheria, tetanus (tetanus), polio, whooping cough, Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), and hepatitis B.

Pediatricians give children a combination of six vaccines against diphtheria, tetanus (tetanus), polio, whooping cough, Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), and hepatitis B.
(Julian Stratenschulte/dpa (Photo credit: Julian Stratenschulte/picture Alliance via Getty Images))

At least 180 cases and 6 deaths have been reported in the United States.

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Health officials remain baffled as to the cause of hepatitis, and the best available evidence points to stomach bugs not known to cause liver problems in otherwise healthy children.

Spain says it began monitoring the situation closely after Britain alerted the World Health Organization following a surge in cases.

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The ministry said it has so far not noticed an increase in the number of cases of this type of hepatitis compared to estimates made with data from past years.

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