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Health Chiefs Probe Mystery Hepatitis Cases 

UK Health Officials are investigating 145 confirmed cases of a mysterious hepatitis strain.

The UK Health Security Agency is probing the unusual increase of severe cases of Hepatitis – inflammation of the liver in children.

More than 200 cases of the virus have been confirmed worldwide with one confirmed death.

In the UK alone, 154 children have fallen ill from the strain, and 10 received liver transplants.

The spate of cases has puzzled scientists because none of the affected children tested positive for the usual hepatitis-causing viruses.

Health chiefs have said increasing evidence indicates the problem is linked to adenoviruses, a family of common viruses which is the main causes of the common cold.

Video: What is Hepatitis ?

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Dr Meera Chand, who is leading the investigation into the rise in cases, said the NHS was working ‘swiftlly’ to investigate the causes of the sudden outbreak.

“Information gathered through our investigations increasingly suggests that this rise in sudden onset hepatitis in children is linked to adenovirus infection” said Dr Chand.

In a briefing, Dr Chand told reporters that other potential causes such as Covid could not be ruled out.

Public health officials added that a lack of exposure to common infections as a result of lockdown restrictions could explain the outbreak in cases.

Hepatologist Prof Simon Taylor-Robinson, Imperial College London, said “..It may be that the past two years has seen children isolated away from their peers and thus not contracting the usual childhood viral illnesses that build up immunity. “

He added:

“Contact now to viruses like adenoviruses may account for the more exaggerated symptoms of some of these previously isolating children.”

Here’s what we know, and what symptoms to watch for..

What is hepatitis?

Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver, it can lead to a range of health problems, some of which can be fatal.

The liver is an extremely important organ that is essential for food digestion, storing energy and is a ‘cleaning machine’ , eliminating toxins in the body.

What symptoms should parents watch for?

The UK Health Security Agency is reminding parents to be on alert to the signs of hepatitis – particularly jaundice and to look for a yellow tinge in the whites of the eyes.

According to the NHS, symptoms of acute hepatitis can also include muscle and joint pain, a high temperature, itchy skin, and dark urine. 

Dr Meera Chand, Director of Clinical and Emerging Infections at UKHSA, said:

It’s important that parents know the likelihood of their child developing hepatitis is extremely low.

What can I do to prevent my child getting hepatitis ?

The UK Health Security Agency recommends parents follow normal hygiene measures, including handwashing and making sure children wash their hands properly, help to reduce the spread of many common infections.



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