Cases of liver inflammation without a clear cause in children continue to be reported in the U.K., with the total reaching 251 last week.
This is an increase of 11 cases since the country’s last official update, published on June 9. The vast majority of affected children live in England (180), with 32 resident in Scotland, 17 in Wales and 22 in Northern Ireland.
The U.K. Health Security Agency, who publish regular updates on the illness, says the rise in new cases per week appears to be slowing.
Yellow staining of the sclera of the eye in diseases of the liver.
Globally, around 650 suspected cases had been reported to the World Health Organisation as of May 26th. The body has not yet published another international update.
The illness is still considered very rare, but its consequences can be severe. A dozen children in the U.K. have so far required liver transplants after developing symptoms.
Although no children in the country are known to have died from the illness, at least nine may have died worldwide.
Experts aren’t sure why acute hepatitis cases in children have risen in recent months, but investigations are underway. U.K. scientists think a type of virus called an adenovirus might be linked, but it’s too early to say for sure.
Adenoviruses can cause a wide range of illnesses, including the common cold.
Some conspiracy theorists have fasely suggested Covid-19 vaccines could be behind the cases, but the vast majority are in children to young to have recieved the shots.
The U.K. cases tend to appear in kids under the age of 5. It often causes symptoms like nausea and diarrhea, followed by jaundice.
‘Very rare’ illness in children
UKHSA Incident Director Dr Alicia Demirjian said parents shouldn’t be “unduly concerned” as hepatitis remains “very rare” in children.
“Maintaining normal hygiene measures, including making sure children regularly wash their hands properly is good practice all year round. It helps to reduce the spread of many common infections, including adenovirus,” she added.
“We continue to remind everyone to be alert to the signs of hepatitis — particularly jaundice, look for a yellow tinge in the whites of the eyes — and contact your doctor if you are concerned.”