IRISH parents have been warned to be acutely aware of hepatitis symptoms after a child tragically died from a new strain of disease.
A second child who is also being treated for the acute illness has recieved a liver transplant in the UK.
Cases and hospitations linked to the new strain are growing and are being reported around the world.
According to WHO as of 21 April 2022, at least 169 cases of acute hepatitis of unknown origin in children have been reported from 11 countries in the WHO European Region and one country in the WHO Region of the Americas.
The majority of cases have been reported in the United Kingdom (114), with the remaining cases reported from other EU / EEA countries as well as the United States of America.
The HSE has identified six probable cases of the condition in Ireland over the past ten weeks, “more than would usually be expected over this period of time”.
Speaking to the Irish Sun, a HSE representative said that: “All probable cases are in children between 1 and 12 years of age.”
All of which have been hospitalized.
In light of this, the HSE has warned parents to be acutely aware of potential signs of the illness to prevent any more loss in life – here’s what you need to know.
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A significant sign of hepatitis in children is jaundice, a condition in which the skin and the whites of your eyes turn yellow.
Health officials have urged parents who may notice this sign in their children to immediately contact their GP or medical professional immediately.
Other warning signs of hepatitis in children include:
- A general feeling of unwellness
- Unusual sense of constant tiredness.
Many cases have also exhibited gastrointestinal symptoms like:
Any of the signs mentioned above could be indicative of the mysterious new disease.
The HSE has advised that children who display any of these symtpoms should be kept home from school and seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Irish health chiefs are currently working closely with the World Health Organization and the European Center for Disease Control to try and find out what is causing the deadly new strain.
So far, none of the children treated have displayed any of the common viruses (hepatitis viruses A, B, C, and E) that are currently known to cause the illness, leaving health experts baffled.
The HSE are investigating other possible causes such as “another prior infection (including COVID-19), “among other environmental factors.
Other countries are also trying to determine if current or prior COVID-19 infection may increase the risk of the new strain.
However, the HSE reported that none of the Irish cases who were tested on admission to hospital showed any evidence of COVID-19 infection.
The majority of the cases hadn’t received a COVID-19 vaccination.
TREATMENT AND PREVENTION
Vaccinations are available for hepatitis B and hepatitis A – and parents are being urged to vaccinate their children immediately.
No vaccines currently exist for Hepatitis C, D or E.
While there is no cure for the disease once it occurs, there are treatments that can prevent or reverse damage done to the liver, while certain medications help prevent future comcplications.
The HSE also stressed that: “Good respiratory and hand hygiene, including supervising hand washing in young children.” can help prevent the spread of infections that cause hepatitis.
Cases of this mysterious and dangerous new hepatitis strain are expected to rise in the coming days and weeks, as new cases continue to be reported.