Increase in hepatitis cases in children under investigation

RCPCH responds to higher than usual rates of liver inflammation (hepatitis) in children. This page was updated on 11 May to reflect findings from the ongoing UKHSA investigation.
College response, with quote mark

Hepatitis is a condition that affects the liver and may occur for a number of reasons, including several viral infections common in children. However, in the cases under investigation the common viruses that cause hepatitis have not been detected.

UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) is working swiftly with the NHS and public health colleagues across the UK to investigate the potential cause. The active case finding investigations have identified a total number of 163 UK cases as of 3 May. Of these children, 11 have received a liver transplant. None have died.

Work is underway to raise awareness among healthcare professionals, so that any further children who may be affected can be identified early and the appropriate tests carried out. This will also help to build a better picture of what may be causing the cases. 

Clinicians should notify their local health protection team of suspected cases of certain infectious diseases, including acute infectious hepatitis and diseases that may present significant risk to human health. 

We are also reminding parents to be aware of the symptoms of jaundice – including skin with a yellow tinge which is most easily seen in the whites of the eyes – and to contact a healthcare professional if they have concerns.

Hepatitis symptoms include:

  • dark urine
  • pale, grey-coloured poo
  • itchy skin
  • yellowing of the eyes and skin (jaundice)
  • muscle and joint pain
  • a high temperature
  • feeling and being sick
  • feeling unusually tired all the time
  • loss of appetite
  • tummy pain