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Adenovirus likely behind child hepatitis rise but Covid not ruled out


Adenovirus ‘increasingly’ likely child hepatitis culprit but Covid link not ruled out


Evidence ‘increasingly’ suggests that adenoviruses are behind a recent increase in child hepatitis cases but a Covid link has not been ruled out, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has said.

In an update issued yesterday, it said it is now investigating a further 34 cases in partnership with officials in the devolved nations, bringing the total number of cases under investigation to 108.

Of the confirmed cases, 79 are in England, 14 are in Scotland and the remainder are in Wales and Northern Ireland.

Director of clinical and emerging infections at UKHSA Dr Meera Chand said: ‘Information gathered through our investigations increasingly suggests that this is linked to adenovirus infection. However, we are thoroughly investigating other potential causes.’

The UKHSA update added: ‘The investigation, including information from patient samples and surveillance systems, continues to point towards a link to adenovirus infection. Seventy-seven per cent of cases tested were positive for adenovirus.

‘However, as it is not usual to see this pattern of disease from adenovirus, we are actively investigating other possible contributing factors, such as another infection (including Covid-19) or an environmental cause.’

It added that it is also ‘investigating whether there has been a change in the genome of the adenovirus’. 

UKHSA continued to stress that there is ‘no link’ to the Covid vaccine as none of the currently confirmed cases are known to have been vaccinated.

Last week, it announced that it was investigating whether adenoviruses or Covid infection could be behind an increase in child hepatitis cases ‘where the usual viruses that cause infectious hepatitis (hepatitis A to E) have not been detected’.

UKHSA first revealed that it was investigating an increase in unexplained hepatitis in young children two weeks ago.

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