LONDON, England – The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) is continuing to investigate and confirm cases of sudden onset hepatitis in children aged 10 and under that have been identified since January 2022.
Working alongside Public Health Scotland, Public Health Wales and the Public Health Agency, active investigations have identified a further 18 confirmed cases since the last update on 27 May, bringing the total number of cases in the UK to 240, as of 7 June, says UK Health Security Agency: “Of the confirmed cases, 170 are resident in England, 32 are in Scotland, 17 are in Wales and 21 are in Northern Ireland. The cases are predominantly in children under 5 years old who showed initial symptoms of gastroenteritis illness (diarrhoea and nausea) followed by the onset of jaundice.”
As part of the investigation, a small number of children over the age of 10 are also being investigated. No children have died.
There is no evidence of any link to the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine. The majority of cases are under 5 years old and too young to have received the vaccine.
“The investigation continues to suggest a strong association with adenovirus. Adenovirus is the most frequently detected virus in samples tested and a formal epidemiological study is underway. Preliminary findings will be published on 16 June. Additional research studies are also being undertaken to understand possible immune factors and the effect of recent or concurrent infections,” the government agency said.
Dr Sophia Makki, incident director at UKHSA, said:
“The likelihood of children developing hepatitis remains extremely low. Maintaining normal hygiene measures, including making sure children regularly wash their hands properly, helps to reduce the spread of many common infections, including adenovirus. We continue to remind everyone to be alert to the signs of hepatitis – particularly jaundice, look for a yellow tinge in the whites of the eyes – and contact your doctor if you are concerned.”