Hepatitis: UK records seven more cases – the sign in the eyes to spot

Polio ‘could spread and mutate’ says Angus Dalgleish

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While case numbers remain low, under 300, they continue to rise; seven new cases as seven new cases were detected this week.

Of the verified cases:
• 183 are in England
• 35 are in Scotland (where the outbreak began)
• 22 are in Northern Ireland
• 18 are in Wales.

Although the threat isn’t as great to the wider public as polio, coronavirus, or monkeypox, hepatitis is still a condition to remain alert to.

Symptoms of hepatitis being observed by doctors include yellowing of the whites of the eyes – medically known as jaundice. This can also cause a yellow tinge to the skin.

Other symptoms include:
• Muscle and joint pain
• High temperature
• Feeling and being sick
• Feeling unusually tired
• Feeling unwell
• Loss of appetite
• Tummy pain
• Dark urine
• Pale, grey-coloured poo
• Itchy skin.

What has caused this outbreak?

The truth is scientists don’t quite know.

So far, the most likely culprit is the adenovirus, a common virus known to cause flu-like symptoms.

However, another theory circles around the COVID-19 lockdowns.

This theory, posited by several experts, is because they didn’t mix during this time, children weren’t exposed to all the viruses other children would have been exposed to during this time.

As a result, a specific set of children have a lower immunity to common viruses than other children on either side of this cohort.

While under-fives are the main victims of this outbreak, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has said as part of its investigation “a small number of children over the age of 10 are also being investigated as possible cases”.

Fortunately, while children are becoming ill none have so far died from the outbreak in the UK.

The cases of mystery hepatitis form part of a troubling year for the UK from a health perspective.

In recent weeks monkeypox cases have risen after a four year hiatus with concerns festivals will act as super spreader events for the disease.

Furthermore, a new wave of coronavirus is being driven by two Omicron sub-variants BA.4 and BA5.

To top this off, polio has returned for the first time since 1984 at a time when vaccination rates in some parts of the UK are at a dangerously low level.

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