Health

Number of UK cases of hepatitis in children rises to 176



M

ore than 170 children have now been identified with sudden onset hepatitis in the UK.

Of them, 11 have needed a liver transplant.

An update from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) confirmed a further 13 cases recorded as of May 10 compared to May 6.

It brings the UK total to 176.

There are now 128 cases of the liver inflammation disease under investigation in England, with 13 in Wales, 26 in Scotland and nine cases being examined in Northern Ireland.

None of the children have died.

Public health officials are carrying out an investigation into “higher than usual” rates of liver inflammation in children across the UK.

The majority of the children are under the age of 10 but the UKHSA said on Thursday that a small number of children above 10 are also being investigated.

The UKHSA are investigating the origin of the mystery outbreak of hepatitis in children since it was first identified in January.

Health officials are still trying to identify the cause of the increase in the severe liver condition after the ususal viruses that cause infectious hepatitis were not detected.

A common virus called adenovirus may be causing the surge following the pandemic, according to the UKHSA.

Adenovirus is the most often detected virus in the samples that have been tested.

However, as it is not common to see hepatitis following adenovirus infection in previously well children.

Investigations are continuing into other factors which may be contributing, the UKHSA said.

Cases are mainly in children under five who have displayed initial symptoms of diarrhoea and nausea followed by jaundice – a condition in which the skin and eyes yellow, which are tell-tale signs the liver is struggling.

Dr Meera Chand, director of clinical and emerging infections at UKHSA, said: “It’s important that parents know the likelihood of their child developing hepatitis is extremely low.

“However, we continue to remind everyone to be alert to the signs of hepatitis – particularly jaundice, look for a yellow tinge in the whites of the eyes – and contact your doctor if you are concerned.

“Our investigations continue to suggest that there is an association with adenovirus and our studies are now testing this association rigorously.”



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