Hepatitis outbreak in children 'could be down to years of Covid lockdowns'

26 April 2022, 06:49 | Updated: 26 April 2022, 07:22

Rising hepatitis cases have been linked to lockdown by one expert
Rising hepatitis cases have been linked to lockdown by one expert. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Young people could be more at risk of hepatitis infection due to Covid lockdowns, an expert has claimed after a rise in cases.

The number of investigated cases among children under 10 rose to 111 up by April 20.

No deaths have been reported over the condition, the UK Health Security Agency [UKHSA] said.

Professor Simon Taylor-Robinson, a hepatologist from Imperial College London, warned that as children mix following restrictions that limited interactions during the last two years their weaker immune systems could put them at greater risk of being infected by hepatitis.

"I think it is likely that children mixing in kindergartens and schools have lower immunity to seasonal adenoviruses than in previous years because of restrictions," he told MailOnline.

"This means they could be more at risk of developing hepatitis because their immune response is weaker to the virus."

He added that he believes there are more cases to be discovered but those are likely to be less severe.

The NHS recommends seeing a GP if your child shows signs of hepatitis, which can include jaundice – a yellowing of their eyes and skin.

Read more: 'It isn't good enough': Spiking Inquiry reveals victim-blaming and lack of victim support

The health service keeps a list of symptoms and prevention advice online.

Of the confirmed cases, 81 children are in England, 14 are in Scotland, 11 are in Wales and five are in Northern Ireland.

Most cases of liver inflammation were in children under five, while children aged over 11 were also being examined.

A total of 10 children needed a liver transplant.

The UKHSA said the usual viruses that cause hepatitis A – E were not behind these cases.

Instead, data suggests the rise in severe cases could be linked to adenoviruses. Experts found that of 53 cases, 40 showed adenovirus was the most common pathogen detected.

Dr Meera Chand, director of clinical and emerging infections at UKHSA, said: "Information gathered through our investigations increasingly suggests that this rise in sudden onset hepatitis in children is linked to adenovirus infection. However, we are thoroughly investigating other potential causes.

Read more: Elon Musk vows to 'defeat the spam bots or die trying' as he buys Twitter in $44bn deal

"Parents and guardians should be alert to the signs of hepatitis, including jaundice, and to contact a healthcare professional if they are concerned.

"Normal hygiene measures such as thorough hand washing, including supervising children, and good thorough respiratory hygiene help to reduce the spread of many common infections, including adenovirus.

"Children experiencing symptoms of a gastrointestinal infection including vomiting and diarrhoea should stay at home and not return to school or nursery until 48 hours after the symptoms have stopped."

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

More strikes are taking place on Saturday

Weekend travel chaos as another day of strikes leaves just a fifth of train network running

Mr Gove has backed Mr Sunak

Michael Gove backs Rishi Sunak in Tory leadership race - as he says Truss campaign has taken 'holiday from reality'

Boulter bit the PD Xander on the head

Man bites police dog on the head after lashing out at officer during arrest

Sanna Marin said she has taken a drug test

Finnish PM takes drug test as new video of her partying emerges

Alamy/Handout

Isis 'Beatle' from London jailed for life in US for role in hostage taking and beheading plot

Sir Alex was in court on Friday

'I never saw Giggs lose temper' Man Utd's legendary ex-manager Sir Alex Ferguson tells trial

Keeping Up Appearances actress Josephine Tewson has died

Keeping Up Appearances star Josephine Tewson dies aged 91

The Environment Agency has issued 'do not swim' orders for 22 beaches in England amid fears sewage discharged from rainwater overflows may have polluted the waters.

'Do not swim' at 22 beaches in England after sewage discharge, Environment Agency warns

Ryan Giggs told his PR executive girlfriend Kate Greville she was "the jam in my donut"

‘Jam in my donut’: Court hears more of Ryan Giggs’ poetry and text exchanges with his ex

A man has appeared at the Old Bailey (right) accused of stabbing a man in a restaurant on London's Poland Street

Chef, 60, ‘stabbed worker to death in Soho Korean restaurant after row about food prep’

Thomas Nutt, 46, killed Dawn Walker hours after their wedding, storing her body in a cupboard before putting it in a suitcase and dumping it in bushes behind their home in Shirley Grove, Lightcliffe, near Halifax, West Yorkshire.

Killer husband who murdered wife on wedding night and hid body in suitcase jailed for life

Brits are scrambling to update their Apple devices after a major security flaw was found

Millions told to update Apple tech 'right now' after major security issue leaves devices vulnerable to hackers

klajeflakjf

NHS warns surging energy bills could cause 'humanitarian crisis' this winter

There are warnings the cost of a pint could reach as high as £14 in London in years to come

Price of pint in London could reach £14 and takeaway coffee nearly a fiver in coming years, research suggests

Exclusive
Melvin Terry waited for 27 hours in A&E before being sent home

Hospital apologises after grandfather, 76, spent 27 hours waiting for A&E bed before being sent home

The girl was allegedly abducted from Warne Avenue, Droylsden

Man, 23, arrested on suspicion of abduction and sexual assault of girl, 6, in Droylsden