Europe

Parents told to watch for hepatitis symptoms after another 18 UK cases

More young children have been diagnosed with hepatitis as a mystery rise in cases continues.

Health officials confirmed 18 more cases in youngsters under the age of 10, bringing the UK total to 240.

It’s unclear what is fuelling the spike of liver illness in children, which is predominantly being found in under-fives.

Experts say there is a ‘strong association with adenovirus’, a common virus which usually causes flu-like symptoms. 

It has been detected in a large number of samples from children with hepatitis and the results of an investigation into the link are due to be published next week.

Some health experts have speculated there may be a link between the rise in cases and lower exposure to viruses children had during lockdowns.

Similar spikes in hepatitis diagnosis have been confirmed around the world.

Any link to the Covid-19 vaccine has been ruled out as the majority of cases are in children who were too young to have had it.

The UK Health Security Agency said 170 of the case are in England, while 32 are in Scotland, 17 are in Wales and 21 are in Northern Ireland. 

According to the UK Health Security Agency, children tend to come down with diarrhoea and nausea followed by the onset of jaundice and none have died.

Dr Sophia Makki, incident director at UKHSA, said: ‘The likelihood of children developing hepatitis remains extremely low.

‘Maintaining normal hygiene measures, including making sure children regularly wash their hands properly, helps to reduce the spread of many common infections, including adenovirus.

‘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.’

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