Warning to parents to monitor their kids' urine colour amid mystery hepatitis outbreak

Warning to parents to monitor their kids' urine colour amid mystery hepatitis outbreak

PARENTS have been urged to monitor the colour of their kids' urine amid the mystery hepatitis outbreak.

Cases have now been detected in children in the UK, US and other European nations.

The condition, a broad term for liver inflammation, is often triggered by a viral infection.

Health officials in the UK have identified 74 cases since the start of the year.

Six children have now had liver transplants after contracting it.

The most common signs of hepatitis include tummy pain and a loss of appetite.

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But one expert has urged parents to keep an eye on their kids' toilet habits as this could also be a sign of the illness.

Dr Ciara Martin, clinical officer of the Health and Safety Executive said anything that affects your liver is going to give you general symptoms.

Dr Martin told RTE Radio 1 that this includes signs of a tummy bug such as nausea and diarrhoea.

"But other key symptoms to look out for would be where the child's urine is darker than normal and maybe with poop, the colour is paler than normal.

"Skin may be yellow and the child might be itchy.

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"Those last ones indicate that it might be a virus or it's a hepatitis affecting the liver", she said.

It's not yet clear what has caused the outbreak – but medics have ruled out the Covid vaccines as non of the affected children had received a jab.

Due to the spread in cases, parents were also this week warned to keep their children's hands clean.

Scottish Government Public Health Minister Maree Todd told MPs: “At present, we don’t know the cause of the hepatitis – all potential causes are being thoroughly investigated.

“A number of children have tested positive for adenovirus, which is generally mild but which can, in some rare cases, cause hepatitis.”

Ms Todd said the most effective way to stem transmission of adenovirus, which spreads all year round, was “good hand and respiratory hygiene”.

“I therefore urge anyone taking care of younger children to supervise hand washing and ensure good hygiene,” she added.

The 10 signs of hepatitis you need to know

As more cases of hepatitis have been identified, parents of young children have been urged to watch out for the key signs of the illness.

The 10 main hepatitis symptoms are:

  1. dark urine
  2. pale, grey-coloured poo
  3. itchy skin
  4. yellowing of the eyes and skin (jaundice)
  5. muscle and joint pain
  6. a high temperature
  7. feeling and being sick
  8. feeling unusually tired all the time
  9. loss of appetite
  10. tummy pain

Long-term hepatitis can also develop without any symptoms, until the liver fails completely, so it is sometimes only caught in blood tests.

It's important to note that these 10 symptoms might not always been down to hepatitis and that if you child has unusual symptoms then you should see your GP.

Adenoviruses are a group of viruses that can infect the tissue linings of the respiratory tract, eyes, intestines, urinary tract and nervous system.

Infections include common colds, pink eyes, coughs, sore throats, diarrhoea and fever.

Adenovirus is extremely contagious and spreads via coughing, sneezing, having direct contact with an infected person or the infected object.

Dr Meera Chand, director of clinical and emerging infections at the UK Health Security Agency, also said last week that adenovirus infection was “one of the possible causes that we are investigating”.

“However, we are thoroughly investigating other potential causes,” she added. 

The World Health Organisation said last week it had first been notified of ten cases of hepatitis across the central belt of Scotland alone.

It then identified 64 more cases in children across the UK under the age of 10.

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