Child dies of acute hepatitis in Ireland as others hospitalised

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A child who was being treated for an acute form of hepatitis in Ireland has died.

A second child who was also being treated for the same illness has received a liver transplant.

Both cases are being linked to an unexplained type of hepatitis that is being reported in children worldwide, after the alarm was raised in the UK in early April with dozens of cases reported worldwide.

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According to the HSE, six probable cases of acute hepatitis of unknown origin have been reported in Ireland, with all of the children hospitalised with their ages ranging from one to 12 years of age.

A HSE spokeswoman told Dublin Live: “Over the past ten weeks, six probable cases of children with hepatitis of unknown cause have been identified in Ireland and a small number of children are under investigation.

“This is more than would usually be expected over this period of time. 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.

“All probable cases are in children between the ages of 1 and 12 years of age and all have been hospitalised. One child has received a liver transplant and sadly one child has passed away.”

It is also understood that the UK has also seen an increase in cases, and the HSE said that the Irish cases “have no links to the UK cases and none had a recent travel history to the UK” before onset of symptoms.

Investigations are underway to pinpoint the cause of the hepatitis case, with experts looking into an increase in infections possibly caused by the adenovirus, Covid-19, or something in the environment.

However, none of the Irish cases who were tested on admission to hospital had evidence of Covid-19 infection at that time and it is understood that many had not received a Covid-19 vaccine.

Ireland is currently working closely with ECDC, UK and WHO colleagues in efforts to identify the cause of the hepatitis cases.

Advice for parents on symptoms of hepatitis from the HSE:

Parents are advised to go to their GP if their child develops symptoms of hepatitis. Symptoms of hepatitis can include:

  • pale, grey-coloured poo (stools)
  • dark urine
  • yellowing of the eyes and skin (jaundice)

If their child has any of these 3 symptoms, they should contact their GP without delay. The GP will assess the child and refer on for further assessment as indicated.

Other symptoms include

  • muscle and joint pain
  • a high temperature
  • feeling and being sick
  • feeling unusually tired all the time
  • a general sense of feeling unwell
  • loss of appetite
  • tummy pain
  • itchy skin

A HSE spokeswoman said: “Parents are advised to go to their GP if their child develops symptoms of hepatitis. The GP will assess the child and refer on for further assessment as indicated.

“If your child is unwell with respiratory or diarrheal or hepatitis symptoms keep your child at home and do not send to crèche/preschool/school until they are better.”

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