PARENTS have been urged to look out for the key signs of hepatitis as infections have surged once more in the UK.
A further 20 cases of the illness have been confirmed today in children under the age of 10.
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said there is now 222 cases in the country.
Of those confirmed, 158 are residents in England, 31 are in Scotland, 17 are in Wales and 16 are in Northern Ireland.
Hepatitis causes inflammation of the liver after a viral infection.
Last week the total infections across the UK totalled at 197, 11 children have received a liver transplant and none of the infected patients in the UK have died from the illness.
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Globally over 450 kids have come down with the condition since the mysterious outbreak started.
Three youngsters died last month in Indonesia, and another fatality in the US is believed to be linked to the outbreak.
The UKHSA said the cases are mainly in children under the age of five who initially, show symptoms such as diarrhoea and nausea, followed by jaundice.
As part of the investigations into the illness, cases in a small number of kids, under the age of 10 are also being looked into.
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The 10 symptoms of hepatitis all parents need to look out for
- 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
Dr Renu Bindra, Senior Medical Advisor and Incident Director at UKHSA said investigations continue to suggest an association with adenovirus.
There are around 50 mutations of the bug but experts at the UKHSA previously said it could be the 41F strain.
Adenoviruses are common and can cause a range of symptoms in people.
- common cold and flu symptoms
- sore throat
- gastro issues such as sickness and diarrhoea.
Serious illness is less common with the viruses, but people with weakened immune systems or existing respiratory or cardiac disease are at a higher risk of developing severe symptoms.
Less common signs include bladder inflammation or infection and issues that affect that brain or spinal cord.
Dr Bindra added that medics are exploring this link, along with other contributing factors, including prior coronavirus infection.
"We are working with other countries who are also seeing new cases to share information and learn more about these infections.
"The likelihood of children developing hepatitis remains extremely low.
"Maintaining normal hygiene measures, including making sure children regularly wash their hands properly, helps to reduce the spread of many common infections, including adenovirus.
"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," Dr Bindra said.
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While a link to Covid is being investigated, medics said there is no link between the rise in hepatitis cases and the coronavirus vaccines.
The majority of children that have tested positive for hepatitis are under the age of five, and therefore were too young to have had the jab.
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