Warning over mysterious hepatitis outbreak in children
Warning over mysterious hepatitis outbreak in children: Health chiefs urge parents to look out for jaundice and other signs of the liver condition – with 70 youngsters struck down in UK
- Around 60 hepatitis cases have been found in youngsters under 10 in England
- A further 11 cases have been hospitalised in Scotland over the last month
- Health chiefs are investigating a ‘wide range of potential causes’ for outbreak
Parents across England and Scotland have been warned to be on the alert for signs of hepatitis after a small number of cases were detected in children.
Around 60 cases of the inflammatory liver condition have been found in youngsters under 10 in England, and 11 cases in Scotland saw children sent to hospital.
Hepatitis A to E, five common types of viral infections that cause the illness, were not detected in any of the cases.
Dr Meera Chand, director of clinical and emerging infections at the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), said ‘investigations for a wide range of potential causes are underway, including any possible links to infectious diseases’.
Covid, as well as a ‘range of other infections’, are being considered as the cause, the UKHSA told MailOnline.
But there is ‘no evidence’ that the Covid vaccine is linked with the cases and most affected children are too young to be eligible for the jab.g to be eligile for the jab.
Around 60 cases of inflammatory liver condition hepatitis have been found in youngsters under 10 in England, and 11 cases in Scotland saw children sent to hospital. Pictured: virus
She said: ‘We are working with partners to raise awareness among healthcare professionals, so that any further children who may be affected can be identified early and the appropriate tests carried out.
‘We are also reminding parents to be aware of the symptoms of jaundice – including skin with a yellow tinge which is most easily seen in the whites of the eyes – and to contact a healthcare professional if they have concerns.’
The UKHSA declined to give a breakdown of where the cases are located.
WHAT IS HEPATITIS?
Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver that is usually caused by a viral infection or liver damage from drinking alcohol.
Short-term hepatitis often has no noticeable symptoms.
But if some develop they can include dark urine, pale grey-coloured poo, itchy skin and yellowing of the eyes and skin.
They can also include muscle and joint pain, a high temperature, feeling and being sick and being unusually tired all of the time.
When hepatitis is spread by a virus, it’s usually caused by consuming food and drink contaminated with the faeces of an infected person or blood-to-blood or sexual contact.
Hepatitis often has no noticeable symptoms but some can become chronic.
If some develop they can include dark urine, pale grey-coloured poo, itchy skin and yellowing of the eyes and skin.
Infected people can also suffer muscle and joint pain, a high temperature, feeling and being sick and being unusually tired all of the time.
It is not clear how youngsters developed the condition. When hepatitis is spread by a virus, it’s usually caused by consuming food and drink contaminated with the faeces of an infected person or blood-to-blood or sexual contact.
In Scotland health bosses said the number of cases in such a short period of time, combined with the geographical spread and severity of illness, was ‘unusual’.
There are currently no clear causes for the cases which have been detected in Lanarkshire, Tayside, Greater Glasgow and Clyde and Fife.
The 11 hospitalised cases in Scotland since March is more than the average of seven to eight non A to E hepatitis seen in the country every year.
And Public Health Scotland said no clear connection between the cases has been identified.
Dr Nicholas Phin, director of public health at the organisation, said their investigation was in its early stages.
He said: ‘If you have a child who is showing signs of jaundice, where the skin has a yellow tinge, and is most easily seen in the whites of the eyes, then parents should contact their GP or other healthcare professional.
‘We are continuing to investigate these cases and will provide further updates as and when they are available.’
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