The Public Health Agency’s latest update on the UK hepatitis outbreak confirms 9 children have been confirmed to have the disease.

In a statement the PHA said it was continuing to work with counterparts in other jurisdictions as part of a UK-wide investigation being led by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) into cases of hepatitis (liver inflammation) in children in which the common viruses which usually cause hepatitis (hepatitis A, B, C, D or E) have not been detected.

The agency is working with HSC partners to raise awareness among healthcare professionals, so that any children who may be affected can be identified early and the appropriate tests carried out.

As of the 10 May the number of confirmed cases in Northern Ireland is nine.

Work is ongoing to assess a wide range of possible factors. One of the possible causes being investigated is that this is linked to adenovirus infection. However, other potential causes are also being thoroughly investigated. There is no link to the COVID-19 vaccine.

Further updates on the UK-wide investigations being led by the UKHSA can be found at www.gov.uk/government/organisations/uk-health-security-agency

Hand hygiene along with respiratory hygiene is the most important method of preventing and controlling the spread of infections being investigated. Parents are being asked to:

  • Encourage children to wash hands regularly
  • Make sure your child carries tissues at all times
  • Teach children to cover their nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing and to use a tissue which is disposed of quickly and carefully in a bin

Parents are also being reminded to be aware of the symptoms of hepatitis. If you have a child who is showing signs of jaundice where the skin or whites of the eyes have a yellow tinge, then you should contact your GP or other healthcare professional.

A factsheet for parents on the acute (sudden onset) of hepatitis (liver inflammation) in children in the UK, outlining the symptoms to watch out for and what to do is available at www.pha.site/HepFactsheet

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