PARENTS are being urged to be on the alert for symptoms of hepatitis in their children following an increase in reports of hepatitis of unknown cause in children.
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said that investigations are under way in a number of countries after cases were reported in Ireland, the UK, the US, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Spain. Most of the cases to date have been reported in the UK.
The exact cause of hepatitis in these children remains unknown.
The ECDC said that the incident team in the UK consider that an infective cause is most likely, based on the clinical and epidemiological features of the cases under investigation.
A HSE spokesperson said that over the past six weeks, a small number (less than five) of children with hepatitis of unknown cause have been identified in Ireland.
“This is more than would usually be expected over a six-week period. The children affected have no links to the other children involved.
“To date no single virus has been identified in the cases. Investigations are currently ongoing to identify the cause of these illnesses,” the spokesperson said.
“The common viruses that cause hepatitis (hepatitis viruses A, B, C, and E) have not been detected in any of the cases. Other possible causes of the hepatitis are under investigation.
“The HSE and the Department of Health continues to keep this under close review and we have issued precautionary information to GPs and paediatric consultants in this specialty,” the spokesperson added.
The HSE is advising parents to be aware of symptoms of hepatitis and to go to their GP if their child develops jaundice (discolouration of the white of the eye, dark urine and/or pale stools).
“The GP will assess the child and refer on for further assessment as indicated,” the spokesperson added.