A GP in Northern Ireland has urged parents to be vigilant as the number of hepatitis cases among children under the age of 10 has increased across the UK.
Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver, most often caused by a viral infection or liver damage. According to the NHS, in some cases there are often no noticeable symptoms and with this people do not even know they have it.
But since January, the UK Health Protection Agency (UKHSA) and the Public Health Agency (PHA) have been investigating a rise in cases of sudden-onset hepatitis, an inflammation of the liver, in children.
Read more: Symptoms of Hepatitis According to the World Health Organization, there is a possibility of increasing cases in children
The number of confirmed cases in Northern Ireland is five, while there have been more than 100 confirmed cases across the UK.
An investigation was launched into the possible reasons behind the spike in cases, but there is no link to the Covid-19 vaccine as none of the affected children had received the jab.
Dr Lawrence Dorman, 48, is a GP at Morne Family Surgery in Kilkiel and President of the Royal College of Practitioners in Northern Ireland.
“Hepatitis is a condition we see and it is usually caused by a viral infection,” Dr. Dorman said.
“It may be common in children, although these new cases are being seen, the common viruses that cause hepatitis have not been detected, so they are taking this very seriously.
“We would urge parents to be vigilant and look out for symptoms in babies. The biggest is jaundice, while their urine may also be dark in color and their stool may be gray in color.
“Itching of the skin, a high temperature, muscle and joint pain may also occur and generally a feeling of fatigue and malaise. Some children actually develop vague symptoms such as loss of appetite and abdominal pain.
“General hygiene after going to the toilet and before preparing food is also important. The main thing is that if a parent has any concerns about their child, contact their GP.”
What is the public health response?
PHA has stated that it is continuing to work with counterparts in other jurisdictions as part of a UK-wide investigation into cases of hepatitis in children led by the UK Health Protection Agency (UKHSA), In which common viruses that usually occur. The cause of hepatitis (hepatitis A, B, C, D or E) is not known.
PHA is also working with HSC partners to raise awareness among health care professionals, so that any children affected can be identified early and appropriate tests can be carried out.
Work is ongoing to assess a wide range of possible factors. One of the possible reasons being investigated is that it is linked to adenovirus infection. However, other possible causes are also being investigated thoroughly.
What are the symptoms of hepatitis?
- dark urine
- yellowish gray poo
- itchy skin
- Yellowing of eyes and skin (jaundice)
- muscle and joint pain
- a high temperature
- feeling sick and sick
- feeling unusually tired all the time
- loss of appetite
- stomach pain
Are you worried about the increasing cases of hepatitis? Let us know in the comments section
What is the advice for parents?
Along with respiratory hygiene, hand hygiene is the most important way to prevent and control the spread of the infections being tested. Parents being asked:
- encourage children to wash their hands regularly;
- Make sure your child carries a tissue at all times;
- Teach children to cover their nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing and to use a tissue that is quickly and carefully thrown into a bin;
Parents are also being reminded to be aware of the symptoms of hepatitis. If your baby is showing signs of jaundice, where there is a yellowish tinge to the skin or the whites of the eyes, you should contact your doctor or other healthcare professional.
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