Italian doctors report a case of severe hepatitis caused by echovirus 11 in twins, according to a study published in the scientific journal Eurosurveillance. This comes after multiple severe infections in newly born twins in France since summer of 2022.
Echovirus 11 is an enterovirus. These viruses can cause various infectious diseases, especially in infants, with symptoms ranging from mild to fatal.
Last summer, French clinicians reported an increase in both the incidence and severity of hepatitis caused by a new type of echovirus 11 affecting newborns. This increase has affected mainly male twins.
Now, Italian doctors report on a pair of male twins who also developed severe hepatitis caused by echovirus 11. In one of the twins in particular, the condition was very serious, with a life-threatening inflammation of the liver. While his brother was discharged from the hospital a few weeks after birth, this twin still needed intensive care, and doctors were looking at a possible liver transplant.
The team highlighted that “for both infants, survival was strictly dependent on rapid recognition of the infection and timely administration of intensive care. According to the French report and ours, a host genetic predisposition in male and twin categories might be hypothesised.”
Whole genome sequencing showed that the Echovirus 11 found in the Italian patients was virtually identical to the strains identified among the reported cases in France (99% nucleotide identity). However, doctors still don’t know the origins of this new lineage nor how it can cause such severe symptoms in some patients.
Piralla A, Borghesi A, Di Comite A et al. (2023) Fulminant echovirus 11 hepatitis in male non-identical twins in northern Italy, April 2023, Eurosurveillance 28, https://www.eurosurveillance.org/content/10.2807/1560-7917.ES.2023.28.24.2300289