Hepatitis in Children – What’s the Story?
You may have heard that there is an ‘outbreak’ of acute hepatitis in children, and so I wanted to share some information on what we know so far.
Hepatitis is a term used to describe inflammation or swelling of the liver, with raised blood markers of inflammation (liver enzymes). There are several viruses that are known to cause hepatitis, such as hepatitis B virus which is included in the routine childhood immunisation schedule and here in Cayman this is the first immunisation that your baby will get at birth.
In the past few months there has been an increase in reported cases of hepatitis across the world (169 according to the latest World Health Organisation report), many of which are in the UK. The age group affected ranges from 1 month to 16 years (particularly those under 10 years) and some children have been very seriously affected, needing liver transplantation.
Although this outbreak is still being investigated, given how recent it is, there may be a link to a different virus, called Adenovirus, which has been detected at higher levels in the UK. Adenovirus infection is a common childhood infection that usually causes symptoms like a cold with tummy upset and loose stool. It is unusual for this virus to make a child very unwell. At present it is not certain what is causing these cases of hepatitis.
What do you need to know as a parent?
Should you be worried about this outbreak of Hepatitis in Children?
First of all, this is still rare, and the overall numbers are small so it is not something to panic about.
However, please do take your child to see their paediatrician if they show any of the following symptoms:
- Pain in their tummy, especially the top part of their tummy on the right, under the ribcage.
- The whites of the eyes look a different colour, especially yellow.
As usual, if you have any concerns about your child’s health then please see your paediatrician for review. Remember that most infections are spread by contact so regular hand washing, especially before eating or touching your face is really important.
Updates & Information
We are following this carefully and will update as more is known. To ensure you don’t miss out on updates, just follow our Facebook Page, where we’ll post further updates: https://www.facebook.com/caymanpaediatrics/
If you want to know more about this outbreak, the article from the New York Times is actually very helpful: