Friday, May 6, 2022

Hepatitis cases in UK rise to 163 children, 11 of whom need live transplants

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More than 160 children have now been identified in the UK with sudden onset hepatitis, 11 of whom required a liver transplant.

An update from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) shows 18 additional cases were recorded on May 3 (compared to April 29), bringing the UK total to 163.

None of the children died.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said earlier this week that nearly 300 probable cases of severe hepatitis in children have been detected in 20 countries around the world.

Health officials are still investigating the cause of the increase in severe liver disease, but a common virus called adenovirus could be causing the post-pandemic surge, according to the UKHSA.

Adenovirus is the most frequently detected virus in the samples tested.

But because it’s not common to see hepatitis after adenovirus infection in previously healthy children, research continues into other factors that could contribute, the UKHSA said.

These include previous Covid infection or an alteration in the adenovirus genome itself.

The most common symptoms in children in the UK are jaundice and vomiting, and the vast majority of cases occur in children under the age of five.

dr Meera Chand, Director of Clinical and Emerging Infections at UKHSA, said: “It is important for parents to know that the chance of their child contracting hepatitis is extremely small.

“However, we continue to remind everyone to watch for signs of hepatitis – particularly jaundice – to look for a yellow cast in the whites of the eyes and to contact your doctor if you have any concerns.

“Our research continues to suggest that there is an association with adenovirus, and our studies are now rigorously testing that association.”

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