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Hepatitis: A mysterious outbreak of children investigated in the United Kingdom

There was a cluster of cases of hepatitis or liver inflammation among British infants, which may be associated with an unknown infection.


April 11, 2022

Girl sitting in hospital bed

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Doctors are investigating the mysterious outbreak of liver disease in young children in the United Kingdom. So far, there have been 60 cases of unexplained hepatitis in the UK and 11 cases in Scotland, or liver inflammation, most of which are children aged 2 to 5 years. The number of cases in Wales and Northern Ireland has not been announced.

No child died, but a “few” people needed a liver transplant. UK Health and Security Agency (UKHSA) said on April 8.. This means that they have to take medicines that suppress the immune system for the rest of their lives, which puts them at risk of infection.

Hepatitis is often associated with certain pathogens, including: Hepatitis C virus, But it can be caused by many other things. Previously, there was a small cluster of cases caused by the hepatitis A virus. This can be spread by fecal contamination of food and water. However, hepatitis viruses A to E are all excluded in the current outbreak.

To find the cause, you need to carefully investigate all cases to see if there are any common factors, he says. Graham CookImperial College London Infectious Disease Specialist.

The outbreak may have been caused by a rare delayed response to the covid-19 infection, or another infection that spreads after the pandemic-related blockade restrictions have been lifted.

“Probably there is a group of children who are not exposed to all the viruses that they normally expose to when they are young,” says Cook. “With the relaxation of restrictions, many other viruses that could not be circulated before are circulating.

The covid-19 vaccine is Children under 5 years old in the UK.

Your doctor is advised to pay attention to children under the age of 16 who have hepatitis symptoms such as jaundice, discolored urine and feces, itchy skin, fever, nausea and abdominal pain.

If the cause of hepatitis is unknown, affected people receive general supportive care and, if necessary, alternative treatment to the dysfunctional liver, such as vitamin K, which helps blood clots.

“If we haven’t treated a specific cause, we’re just trying to minimize damage from the liver and support different organ functions if someone gets sick,” says Cook.

Hospital doctors are said to have “low thresholds for seeking professional support” from three specialized centers for children with liver disease in the United Kingdom.

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Hepatitis: A mysterious outbreak of children investigated in the United Kingdom

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