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Public Health 'Closely Monitoring' Unexplained Hepatitis Cases

Guernsey's Director of Public Health, Dr Nicola Brink

Guernsey's Director of Public Health says her department is closely monitoring international data following a rise in unexplained cases of hepatitis in children.

Dr Nicola Brink has reassured islanders there have been no suspected cases in the bailiwick, as have health officials in Jersey.

It's after the UK Health Security Agency - formerly Public Health England - reported more than 100 cases of sudden-onset hepatitis in children under 10 so far this year.

In these cases, none of the viruses commonly known to cause infectious hepatitis were detected.

Eight of the children have undergone a liver transplant.

Guernsey's Public Health Services says none of the confirmed hepatitis cases in the UK have been vaccinated against COVID-19 and there is no known link between the two.

The UKHSA says it believes an adenovirus infection could be a contributing factor, with 77% of the children tested in the UK found to be positive for adenovirus.

However, it adds that this isn't the normal pattern of disease from adenovirus and says research is ongoing to look at other contributing factors.

Dr Brink says although there's no evidence of hepatitis among Guernsey's children, it's important we remain vigilant:

"We are aware of the situation and are monitoring developments closely. We have been in contact with colleagues in Primary and Secondary Care and we do not have any suspected cases currently in the Bailiwick. however, we need to remain vigilant.

Normal hygiene measures such as thorough handwashing (including supervising children) and good thorough respiratory hygiene, help to reduce the spread of many common infections, including adenovirus. It is important to continue to practice many of the precautions that we also use to prevent COVID-19.

I think it is also important for islanders, particularly parents and guardians, to be alert to the signs of hepatitis (including jaundice) and to contact a healthcare professional if they are concerned."

Symptoms of hepatitis include dark urine, pale or grey-coloured poo, itchy skin, yellow eyes or skin (jaundice), muscle or joint pain, high temperature, feeling and being sick, feeling unusually tired, tummy pain or a loss of appetite.

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