Child hepatitis cases continue to rise in Wales but cause remains unknown

Public Health Wales is continuing to investigate acute hepatitis in children as cases rise in Wales. Credit: PA

Health officials are continuing to investigate the cause of a growing number of acute hepatitis cases in children.

Investigations have now identified 17 cases of the condition amongst children in Wales - an increase of four since the last update on May 6.

As of May 10, there had also been 128 cases in England, 26 in Scotland, and 9 in Northern Ireland.

Many of those affected have experienced vomiting and diarrhoea, and cases have been reported worldwide, with the US saying last week it was investigating 180 cases.

What are the symptoms of hepatitis?

· dark urine

· pale, grey-coloured poo

· itchy skin

· yellowing of the eyes and skin (jaundice)

· muscle and joint pain

· a high temperature

· feeling and being sick

· feeling unusually tired all the time

· loss of appetite

· tummy pain

Public Health Wales is continuing to investigate the cause of the rise in cases but says that information increasingly suggests that it may be linked to a virus infection, with other factors likely to be playing a role.

Dr Ardiana Gjini, Consultant in Communicable Disease Control for Public Health Wales, said: “Hepatitis can cause jaundice and inflammation of the liver, so parents and carers should be aware of the symptoms of jaundice – including skin with a yellow tinge which is most easily seen in the whites of the eyes.

“We are reminding the public to familiarise themselves with this and other symptoms of hepatitis in light of these UK cases. 

“In addition, the importance of maintaining normal hygiene routines, especially ensuring that children wash their hands properly, help to reduce the spread of many common infections.

“Parents and carers are reminded that they should keep their children away from school and seek advice from a GP or an appropriate specialist if their child experiences any symptoms linked with hepatitis.”

Regular updates on the ongoing investigation into the cases in the UK can be found on the UKHSA website.