The Public Health Agency is investigating a number of cases of hepatitis in children in Northern Ireland because their source has not been identified.
The agency is working with colleagues as part of a UK-wide investigation into inflammatory bowel disease, which does not identify the common viruses that usually cause hepatitis (hepatitis A, B, C, D or E).
In a statement issued on Tuesday evening, the Department of Public Health said there are currently a small number of confirmed cases (less than five) in Northern Ireland.
“The agency is working with HSC partners to raise awareness among health professionals so that any children who might be affected can be identified early and appropriate testing can be done,” the spokesperson added.
They say: “One of the possible causes under investigation is that a group of viruses called adenoviruses can cause disease. However, other potential causes are being actively investigated.”
The statement read: “Adoviruses are a family of common viruses that usually cause mild illness and most people recover without complications. They can cause a variety of symptoms, including the common cold, vomiting and diarrhea. Although they do not usually cause hepatitis, they It is a rare known complication of the virus.
Adenoviruses are usually transmitted from person to person and through contaminated surfaces, as well as through the respiratory tract. The most effective way to reduce the spread of adenovirus is to maintain hand and respiratory hygiene and to supervise good hand washing in young children.
Dr Gillian Armstrong, interim co-chair of PHA Health, said: “We are working with colleagues in public health in England, Scotland and Wales to explore the wide range of potential factors that could lead to children being hospitalized with liver disease. The inflammation is known as hepatitis.
One possible reason for the investigation is that it is linked to adenovirus infection. However, other potential causes are also being thoroughly investigated. There is no association with the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Hand hygiene along with respiratory hygiene is the most important way to prevent and control the spread of the infection we are looking for.”
Dr. Armstrong said the PHA asks parents:
* Encourage children to wash their hands regularly
* Make sure your child always wears textiles;
* Teach children to cover their noses and mouths when coughing or sneezing and to use a towel that is quickly and gently placed in the trash.
He added, “We also remind parents to be aware of symptoms of hepatitis. If you have a child who shows signs of jaundice where the skin or the whites of the eyes have a yellowish tinge, you should see your doctor or other healthcare practitioner.”