Public Health Wales investigating increase in hepatitis cases in children
Public Health Wales is working with Public Health Scotland (PHS), Public Health Agency (Northern Ireland) and the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) to investigate cases of acute hepatitis in children.
The cause of these is not yet known, but the most common causes from hepatitis viruses have been ruled out.
There are no known cases in Wales under active investigation currently, but a very small number of cases from earlier this year corresponded with the clinical presentation.
In England, there are approximately 60 cases under investigation in children under 10.
Dr Giri Shankar, Director of Health Protection for Public Health Wales, said:
“Hepatitis can cause jaundice and inflammation of the liver, so parents and carers should be aware of the symptoms of jaundice – including skin with a yellow tinge which is most easily seen in the whites of the eyes.”
“We are reminding the public to familiarise themselves with this and other symptoms of hepatitis in light of these UK cases.”
“Parents and carers are reminded that they should keep their children away from school and seek advice from a GP or an appropriate specialist if their child experiences any symptoms linked with hepatitis.”
Dr Meera Chand, UKHSA Director of Clinical and Emerging Infections, 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.”
Hepatitis symptoms include:
• dark urine
• pale, grey-coloured poo
• itchy skin
• yellowing of the eyes and skin (jaundice)
• muscle and joint pain
• a high temperature
• feeling and being sick
• feeling unusually tired all the time
• loss of appetite
• tummy pain