Twenty more cases of hepatitis reported in children taking UK total to over 200

27 May 2022, 10:47 | Updated: 27 May 2022, 11:16

A further twenty cases of hepatitis cases in children under 10 have been confirmed in the UK.
A further twenty cases of hepatitis cases in children under 10 have been confirmed in the UK. Picture: Alamy

By Sophie Barnett

A further 20 cases of hepatitis have been confirmed in children aged 10 and under - taking the total number across the UK to over 200.

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A total of 222 cases have been reported, as of Wednesday May 25, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said.

Of the confirmed cases, 158 live in England, 31 are in Scotland, 17 are in Wales and 16 are in Northern Ireland.

The cases are mainly in children under five, who showed initial symptoms of gastroenteritis illness (diarrhoea and nausea) followed by jaundice.

No children have died.

Symptoms include dark urine, itchy skin, muscle and joint pain, loss of appetite and a high temperature.

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While the condition may have occurred for a number of reasons, including several viral infections common in children, the cases under investigation have not found the common viruses which usually cause hepatitis.

The UKHSA is investigating whether prior Covid infection is behind the surge, but said there was "no evidence" of the condition being linked to Covid vaccinations.

Dr Renu Bindra, senior medical adviser and incident director at UKHSA, said: "Our investigations continue to suggest an association with adenovirus, and we are exploring this link, along with other possible contributing factors including prior infections such as Covid-19.

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"We are working with other countries who are also seeing new cases to share information and learn more about these infections.

"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."

A small number of children aged over 10 are also being looked into as part of UKHSA's investigation.

Scientists had also been looking into a link between the hepatitis cases and dogs, but ruled it out last week.