More than 17 cases of acute hepatitis in children have now been identified in Wales. Public Health Wales is working with the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) as well as Public Health Scotland (PHS) and Public Health Agency (Northern Ireland) to investigate cases across the UK.
Investigations have identified 17 cases in Wales, an increase of four cases since the last update on May 6. Read all you need to know about the possible cause here.
A number of hypotheses are being investigated and the information gathered so far increasingly suggests that the rise in these cases may be linked to adenovirus infection, with other factors likely to be playing a role. Dr Ardiana Gjini, consultant in communicable disease control for Public Health Wales, said: “Hepatitis can cause jaundice and inflammation of the liver, so parents and carers should be aware of the symptoms of jaundice – including skin with a yellow tinge which is most easily seen in the whites of the eyes. We are reminding the public to familiarise themselves with this and other symptoms of hepatitis in light of these UK cases.
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“In addition, the importance of maintaining normal hygiene routines, especially ensuring that children wash their hands properly, help to reduce the spread of many common infections. Parents and carers are reminded that they should keep their children away from school and seek advice from a GP or an appropriate specialist if their child experiences any symptoms linked with hepatitis.”
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.
The total number of cases in the UK now stands at 197, 11 of whom have received a liver transplant. There have been no reports of any deaths in the UK. Amongst those cases, 170 have been tested for adenovirus of which 116 had adenovirus detected.
There is no evidence of any link to the coronavirus (Covid-19) vaccine. The majority of cases are under 5 years old and too young to have received the vaccine.
Following further investigation, there is no evidence linking dog ownership and cases of hepatitis in children. Dr Renu Bindra, Senior Medical Advisor 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 infection, but investigations continue to unpick the exact reason for the rise in cases.”