Around 60 confirmed cases of hepatitis in young children in England, and 11 in Scotland, have led to investigations by the UK Health Security Agency and Public Health Scotland

Suzi Media child sick

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) and Public Health Scotland (PHS) are both investigating higher-than-usual rates of hepatitis in children aged less than 10 years.

Approximately 60 cases of hepatitis have been identified in England. A further 11 cases that were serious enough to require hospital admission have been identified in Scotland.

In Scotland, it is usual for seven or eight cases of hepatitis in children without another underlying diagnosis to be detected each year. PHS acknowledged in a press release: ‘The number of cases in such a short period of time, combined with the geographical spread and severity of illness, in some cases, is unusual and requires further investigation.

Both agencies have confirmed that the common viruses associated with hepatitis have been ruled out as causes. PHS acknowledged that infection is the likeliest cause.

Dr Meera Chand, Director of Clinical and Emerging Infections for the UKHSA, 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.’

Dr Nicholas Phin, Director of Public Health for PHS, said: ‘If you have a child who is showing signs of jaundice … then parents should contact their GP or other healthcare professional.

‘We are continuing to investigate these cases and will provide further updates as and when they are available.’

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