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CHILD HEALTH: Raising Awareness – Increase in hepatitis cases in children under investigation

April 2022

Public Health doctors have highlighted a sharp rise in Children’s Hepatitis (liver inflammation) among children under ten in the UK over recent months. With 74 cases now under investigation since early January 2022.

This rare type of Hepatitis is not likely caused by the usual Hepatitis virus infections (Hep A to E).  Initial investigations suggest this may be linked to a common virus known as Adenovirus which normally causes only minor illness, mild symptoms including common cold, vomiting and diarrhea which most people recover from without any problems. While they don’t typically cause hepatitis, it is a known rare complication of the viruses.

Whilst these do not typically cause Hepatitis this is a rare complication.  Adenovirus is passed from person to person from touching contaminated surfaces as well as through the upper respiratory tract (cough, sneezing etc.) The main preventative measure is proper handwashing – by kids and adults alike – along with good respiratory hygiene, such as coughing into your elbow therefore the most effective way to minimise risk of infection is to practice good respiratory hygiene and to supervise good hand washing in young children.

Work is underway to raise awareness, so that any further children who may be affected can be identified early and the appropriate tests carried out. This will also help to build a better picture of what may be causing the cases, which are not suspected to be linked to covid vaccination

We are also reminding parents and guardians 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 at the surgery if they have concerns.

Hepatitis symptoms include:

  • dark urine
  • pale, grey-coloured poo
  • itchy skin
  • yellowing of the eyes and skin (jaundice)
  • muscle and joint pain
  • a high temperature
  • feeling and being sick
  • feeling unusually tired all the time
  • loss of appetite
  • tummy pain