A NEW Covid variant could be to blame for the mysterious hepatitis outbreak in children.
Health chiefs have said it is one of their working theories, as they probe what is behind the surge in cases.
A new Covid variant is one of the theories behind the rise in mystery hepatitis casesCredit: Getty – Contributor
The UK Health Security Agency has listed it as their fifth option on the list of “hypotheses” in a report from April 28.
It includes “a drug, toxin or environmental exposure”, “novel variant adenovirus” or an increased susceptibility to normal adenovirus infections due to lockdown.
In the latest report into the outbreak, the UKHSA said they had not yet found enough evidence of a new variant to be certain that is what is causing the infections.
But it has not been discounted as a reason for the sudden rise in hepatitis cases in kids.
Four of the UK cases which also had a positive Covid test result were linked to variants.
Two had an Omicron lineage, with another two linked to BA.2 and other sub-lineages, the report said.
The illness has so far been identified in nearly 230 children, including 145 in the UK.
It has spread to 20 countries, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic told reporters in Geneva yesterday: “As of May 1, at least 228 probable cases were reported to WHO from 20 countries, with over 50 additional cases under investigation.”
The update suggests eight countries have detected cases in the last week since the WHO’s previous update.
The WHO has confirmed that one child, from an undisclosed location, has died of the inflammatory liver disease.
A further four deaths – three in Indonesia and one in the US – have been reported by health ministries, but not officially confirmed as related.
Parents have been urged to watch out for signs of the serious illness, as cases rise all over the world.
Dozens of kids between one month and 16 years old have been struck down with liver inflammation in over 12 countries.
Currently scientists think the most likely cause is an adenovirus – common viruses that cause flu-like and gastro symptoms, and usually resolve without any lasting issues.
In kids they generally spark a mild illness, with liver inflammation (hepatitis) rare in healthy youngsters.
Traditionally the type of infections caused include the ear, common colds, pink eye and tonsillitis, with symptoms including coughs, sore throats, diarrhoea and fever.
But this illness has left scientists puzzled, with a number of kids needing liver transplants.
Last week it was revealed in a UK Health Security Agency report, experts think the adenovirus type 41F could be part of the problem.
The 10 main hepatitis warning signs are:
- Dark urine
- Pale, grey-coloured poo
- Itchy skin
- Yellowing of the eyes and skin (jaundice)
- Muscle and joint pain
- A high temperature
- Feeling and being sick
- Feeling unusually tired all the time
- Loss of appetite
- Tummy pain
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