This is a really worrying side effect of the pandemic. It is a child impact issue and will nonetheless involve a number of young people living in rural settings.
Ten children in the UK have required a liver transplant following a recent surge in severe hepatitis cases among young children, with the current total standing at 114 cases across all four UK nations.
A lack of exposure to common adenoviruses due to Covid restrictions during the past two years combined with a recent spike in adenovirus infection as society opens back up is the most likely explanation, experts say.
Adenoviruses are common viruses that can cause a range of symptoms, from common cold-like symptoms, to fever, pneumonia, diarrhoea and conjunctivitis. They do not usually cause hepatitis, although this can be a very rare complication of some types of adenovirus infection.
Speaking during an emergency session at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases in Lisbon on Monday, Dr Meera Chand, incident director for UKHSA’s investigation into the hepatitis surge, said that of 81 cases reported in England so far, 43 children had fully recovered, while 38 were still in hospital. Seven of the transplant cases were in England.
“The cases in England are not known to be connected to each another and are dispersed all over the country,” she said.