If you're concerned about the sudden increase in hepatitis cases across the world that have spiked this year, we're here to put your worries at ease and tell you everything you need to know.
Cases in young children in the UK from January-May 2022 have now reached 163, which is particularly high compared to previous years. However it's important to know and be reassured that only 10 of these children have need liver transplants, and so far there has been no UK deaths.
Firstly, what is hepatitis and how does it affect children?
Hepatitis is the inflammation of the liver, and can cause damage to or destroy the cells that we need in order for our liver to function healthily. Your child may catch hepatitis by coming into contact with a virus that causes it. Some children will not show any symptoms, while others may develop a yellowish tone of skin and eyes known as jaundice, and experience other flu like symptoms.
How can I help prevent my child from getting hepatitis?
The best thing that you can do to prevent your child from catching hepatitis is to practice good hygiene. This includes regularly washing their hands with soap, especially before they eat, and teaching them to cover their mouth and nose when they cough or sneeze.
What should I do if my child develops any symptoms?
If your child is experiencing flu like symptoms, give them the usual medication and extra rest that you would do if they had a common cold. If this develops into jaundice, where their skin and white of their eyes begin to turn a yellowish colour, you should immediately contact your healthcare professional, GP or call 111 for advice. Jaundice is most often something that can be treated easily, but it's always important to check for anything more serious, such as hepatitis.
If you're still worried, or for the latest official updates, visit the government website here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/increase-in-hepatitis-liver-inflammation-cases-in-children-under-investigation