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11 hepatitis symptoms including vomiting and itchy skin as more children fall ill

By Ketsuda Phoutinane

Cases of hepatitis in children have increased as four more youngsters were diagnosed with the mystery illness in Scotland.

Public Health Scotland (PHS) confirmed a total of 26 cases in an update on May 12 as the total number of UK cases has reached 176.

The majority of the cases worldwide have been reported in the UK and the World Health Organization (WHO) said there are 348 probable cases globally as of Tuesday.

In its update, PHS said the most common hepatitis symptoms of the children affected are jaundice and vomiting.

The health body went on to advise Scottish parents on how to recognise jaundice, other signs, and when to contact a health professional.

What's causing children's hepatitis cases?

There are 26 children's hepatitis cases in Scotland and 176 in the UK (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

In January this year, an increase of sudden onset hepatitis (liver inflammation) infections was first detected in children under the age of 10.

The most probable cause of the outbreak is a strain of adenovirus called F41, reports the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), as the usual viruses that cause infectious hepatitis (hepatitis A to E) have not been detected.

Health officials say there is no evidence of any link to the Covid vaccine - the majority of cases are under five-years-old, and thus too young to have received a jab.

How serious is the acute hepatitis outbreak?

"Overall, only a very small number of children have been admitted to hospital and the current risk to children of severe hepatitis remains extremely low," said PHS in the update.

Since January, a child in Ireland died after contracting hepatitis. The WHO has confirmed one hepatitis death as five were reported by the US and three by Indonesia.

Hepatitis signs and symptoms to know

Scottish parents were warned about the most common symptoms found in the hepatitis cases (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

PHS said the two most common symptoms of the children affected are jaundice and vomiting.

They advised: "If a child shows signs of jaundice, where there is a yellow tinge in the whites of the eyes or on the skin, then parents should contact their GP or other healthcare professional."

It continues to encourage parents and caregivers to ensure children practise good hand and respiratory hygiene to help reduce the spread of common infections.

Other hepatitis symptoms can include:

  • Dark urine
  • Pale grey coloured poo
  • Itchy skin
  • Muscle and joint pains
  • Tiredness
  • Feeling sick
  • A high temperature
  • Loss of appetite
  • Stomach pain

Responding to the slight increase in figures in Scotland, Dr Jim McMenamin, Head of Health Protection (Infection Services) at PHS reiterated: "Our investigations increasingly suggest that there is a link to adenovirus infection.

"Adenoviruses are commonly passed from person to person and by touching contaminated surfaces, as well as through the respiratory system.

"Common infections, like adenovirus, can be prevented with good hand and respiratory hygiene. I would, therefore, encourage parents and care-givers to supervise young children while they are washing their hands to ensure they do so properly.

"PHS continues to work with NHS and public health colleagues across the UK to investigate other potential causes and we will issue further updates as the situation develops."

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Dive Deeper:
Child dies after getting hepatitis as possible link to dogs is 'explored'
It comes as the number of worldwide cases has grown to 348.
What do we know about the mystery hepatitis strain spreading in Irish children? Signs, symptoms and causes
The HSE confirmed that a child being treated for an acute form of hepatitis has died, and a second has…
Fears grow over mystery hepatitis strain that’s killed an Irish child as parents urged to know signs
Parents and guardians in Ireland are being urged to watch out for the signs and symptoms of hepatitis in children…
Child dies with acute hepatitis as the WHO confirms 348 probable cases worldwide
A child has died after being admitted to hospital with acute hepatitis, with officials announcing six probable cases of children…
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Thirteen more cases of mysterious hepatitis in UK as child in Ireland dies from virus
Health officials still searching for virus behind outbreak though strong link with adenovirus detected
Hepatitis symptoms in children to look for as infection linked to sudden rise in cases
Since January 2022, a number of severe liver inflammation cases (hepatitis) has been reported in previously healthy children, with the…
Get all your news in one place