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Common adenovirus symptoms as link found to hepatitis outbreak in kids

The UK’s Health Security Agency (UKHSA) is investigating a mysterious outbreak of hepatitis among children.

So far, more than 100 cases of sudden onset hepatitis in children under the age of 10 have been recorded in the UK. The outbreak has also spread to at least 12 other countries, although the majority of cases remain in the UK.

The infection has caused at least 17 children to undergo liver transplants, and the World Health Organisation (WHO) has confirmed that one child has died.

Information gathered during the UKHSA investigation has increasingly suggested that the rise in severe cases of hepatitis could be due to adenovirus type 41F infection.

What is adenovirus?

Adenoviruses are a group of viruses that can cause common cold, flu and gastro-symptoms but usually do not result in serious illness.

However, experts believe that Adenovirus type 41F could be responsible for the high number of hepatitis cases.

The UK’s Health Security Agency has said that adenovirus was a detected pathogen in 40 out of 53 of the confirmed hepatitis cases that underwent testing.

NHS data has shown that there is currently a higher rate of common viruses circulating in children in the UK than in previous years and that there has been a notable increase of adenovirus in children ages one to four.

What are the symptoms of adenovirus?

Adenoviruses can cause a wide range of symptoms, but some of the most common include:

  • common cold or flu-like symptoms

  • fever

  • sore throat

  • acute bronchitis

  • pneumonia

  • pink eye

  • diarrhoea, vomiting, nausea and stomach pain

What are the symptoms of hepatitis?

Healthcare professionals have urged parents to look out for signs of hepatitis in their children amid the outbreak.

Dr Meera Chand, Director of Clinical and Emerging Infections at UKHSA, said: “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 handwashing (including supervising children) and good thorough respiratory hygiene, help to reduce the spread of many common infections, including adenovirus.”

The signs to look for include:

  • yellowing of the white part of the eyes or skin (jaundice)

  • dark urine

  • pale, grey-coloured faeces (poo)

  • itchy skin

  • muscle and joint pain

  • a high temperature

  • feeling and being sick

  • feeling unusually tired all the time

  • loss of appetite

  • tummy pain

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