Parents in Europe warned as mystery hepatitis outbreak claims 12 children

Image of a scientist in a laboratory. Credit: Pexels - Artem Podrez

European health officials have warned parents that the death toll from the mystery hepatitis outbreak has risen to 12 children

Health officials in Europe have reported today, Monday, May 16, that the death toll across the globe from the mystery hepatitis outbreak has risen to 12. One child has now been confirmed as dying from this virus in Ireland.

Indonesia saw three children die last month, while another fatality in America is believed to be linked to the same outbreak. Another 450 cases worldwide have been reported by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC)

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), last week, at least 20 countries had reported cases, while a further 13 were investigating another 70 possible cases.

At least 176 cases of this mystery virus have been reported by health chiefs in Britain. England has experienced the bulk, with 128 infections. Scotland has seen 26, Wales with 13, and another nine in Northern Ireland.

In the US, medics at the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have now advised that liver samples should be taken from those suffering the worst cases of hepatitis. Scientists are initially said to be of the belief that a sub-type 41 of the adenovirus is behind this outbreak, and stool, throat and blood samples are also being taken.

Investigations are making important progress over the past week said Philippa Easterbrook, from the WHO’s global hepatitis programme. Around 70 per cent of tests carried out have shown that adenovirus is involved she added. At the same time, another 18 per cent of the cases also tested positive for coronavirus.

“At present, the leading hypotheses remain those which involve adenovirus – with also still an important consideration about the role of Covid as well, either as a co-infection or a past infection”, Ms Easterbrook commented.

A spokesperson for the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) connected the outbreak to the fact that kids are now mixing again after the pandemic. “Almost all of the cases have been seen in children under 10, with most cases aged between 3 and 5 years”.

They added, “Most of the children affected were previously healthy, and only a very small number of cases are linked to another case of hepatitis. This means that even if there has been a case in your family or friends, or if a case has occurred at your child’s nursery or school, your child is still at low risk of developing hepatitis”.

The likelihood of their child developing hepatitis is extremely, and parents should not panic, low pointed out Dr Meera Chand, Director of Clinical and Emerging Infections at UKHSA. “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”, she added.


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Written by

Chris King

Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at [email protected]