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Cases of mysterious hepatitis in children rise from 12 to 25 since June

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25 mysterious cases of acute hepatitis in children detected in Ireland since March.

25 mysterious cases of acute hepatitis in children detected in Ireland since March.

25 mysterious cases of acute hepatitis in children detected in Ireland since March.

A total of 13 additional cases of acute hepatitis of unknown cause in children have been recorded since the start of June.

So far 25 children in Ireland have contracted the rare and potentially fatal disease since it was first detected in March. 

Two children have received a liver transplant and there has been one death associated with this disease.

In a statement released today, the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) said the 13 additional cases is “more than would usually be expected over this period of time”.

“To date no single virus has been identified in all cases. Investigations are currently ongoing to identify the cause of these illnesses,” the HSPC said. 

"All probable cases are in children between the ages of 0 and 12 years of age, 24 of the 25 cases were hospitalised. Two children have received a liver transplant and there has been one death associated with this disease.”

It comes as in the UK health authorities have also reported an increase in hepatitis of unknown cause in children.

Investigations are underway in the UK to determine the cause of the illness.

The HPSC said information gathered so far by UK investigations suggest that the recent cases of hepatitis may be linked to “adenovirus infection”, however, this theory is still under investigation. It also confirmed that Irish cases “have no links” to the UK cases.

"The common viruses that cause hepatitis (hepatitis viruses A, B, C, and E) have not been detected in any of the cases,” the HSPC added. 

"One area being explored is whether the hepatitis cases are linked to an increase in infections caused by adenovirus, a common cause of childhood and adult illnesses typically causing mild cold- or flu-like illness, or diarrhoea.

“Adenovirus infections rarely cause hepatitis. Other possible causes such as another infection (including Covid-19) or something in the environment are also being investigated. In Ireland, as in other countries, investigations are underway to determine if current or prior Covid-19 infection may increase the risk of this disease in some children.

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"None of the Irish cases who were tested on admission to hospital had evidence of Covid-19 infection at that time. The majority of the cases had not received Covid-19 vaccination. Ireland is liaising closely with ECDC, UK and WHO colleagues in efforts to identify the cause of this illness.”

GPs and paediatric consultants are aware of the recent increase in cases of hepatitis amongst children and will be alert to identify any further cases that may develop.

Parents are advised to go to their GP if their child develops symptoms of hepatitis. Symptoms of hepatitis can include:

  • - pale, grey-coloured poo (stools)
  • - dark urine
  • - yellowing of the eyes and skin (jaundice)

If their child has any of these 3 symptoms, they should contact their GP without delay. The GP will assess the child and refer on for further assessment as indicated.


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