The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has recently detected higher than usual rates of liver inflammation (hepatitis) in children.
Hepatitis is a condition that affects the liver and may occur for a number of reasons, including several viral infections common in children. However, in the cases under investigation the common viruses that cause hepatitis have not been detected.
UKHSA is working swiftly with the NHS and public health colleagues across the UK to investigate the potential cause. In England, there are approximately 60 cases under investigation in children under 10.
Dr Meera Chand, Director of Clinical and Emerging Infections, said:
“Investigations for a wide range of potential causes are underway, including any possible links to infectious diseases.
“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. This will also help us to build a better picture of what may be causing the cases.
“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.”
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