I’m a GP – here’s everything all parents must know about mysterious hepatitis outbreak in kids

I’m a GP – here’s everything all parents must know about mysterious hepatitis outbreak in kids

CASES of hepatitis have been detected across the world, as experts scramble to find out the cause.

It's spread to over 20 countries, with over 163 children in the UK having contracted it.

British health officials said the odds of a child developing hepatitis remains “extremely low”, but parents should know the symptoms.

According to the WHO, the majority of the over 250 cases have appeared in Europe.

While it's a rare condition, one doctor has revealed what concerned parents need to know.

Posting to TikTok, Dr Karan Rajan explained that around ten per cent of the children diagnosed with hepatitis are requiring liver transplants.

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Latest data from the UK Health Security Agency states that 11 kids in the UK have needed the operation and that none have died.

Dr Karan said: "It's pretty serious.

"No one has the answer to what's causing it. Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver and is usually caused by hepatitis virus, A,B,C,D or E.

"None of these kids have been confirmed with that diagnosis and scientists are thinking it might be down to a common virus called adenovirus.

"But in immunocompetent children with normal healthy immune systems it doesn't usually cause that.

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"It can rarely cause hepatitis in immunocompromised children, but none of these kids are known to have a compromised immune system.

"It's all just under investigation right now, no one knows, but it's scary."

The UKHSA is currently investigating the link between adenovirus and hepatitis.

Adenoviruses are commonly spread by close personal contact, respiratory droplets and surfaces. 

There are more than 50 types of adenoviruses, which most commonly cause the common cold.

But early evidence suggests children with hepatitis had been infected with adenovirus type 41 that causes symptoms of tummy pains, vomiting, nausea and diarrhoea.

The signs of hepatitis you need to know

Hepatitis symptoms include:

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

This comes before signs of liver inflammation, which may include jaundice – yellowing of the skin and eyes.

Medics are also investigating the a link to prior coronavirus infection.

There is no evidence of any link to the Covid-19 vaccine.

The majority of cases are under 5 years old, and are too young to have received the jab.

Dr Meera Chand, Director of Clinical and Emerging Infections at UKHSA said that it'simportant 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.

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

"We are also investigating other contributors, including prior SARS-COV-2, and are working closely with the NHS and academic partners to understand the mechanism of liver injury in affected children.”

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