Health chiefs are now investigating whether dogs are the cause of a mysterious hepatitis outbreak around the world.
A “high” number of children who have contracted the disease come from families that own or have had “dog contact.”
The sudden spate of cases has prompted officials to try to determine the cause of the rising number of infections.
The UK Health Safety Authority (UKHSA) announced that “the significance of this finding is being investigated” after identifying the link to dogs.
But it remains unclear how the beloved animals could be to blame – some experts brand it as “a little far-fetched”.
It comes as another 18 British children have been struck by the disease – bringing the country’s total number of infections to 163 since January.
Eleven of the youths required a liver transplant.
Almost 300 cases have now been detected worldwide – and tragically one confirmed death has been recorded.
A further four are under investigation that are not in the UK.
Health chiefs have urged parents to watch their children for signs of the virus, including itchy skin, abdominal pain and a high temperature.
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Scientists were stunned by the outbreak after excluding the common hepatitis A, B, C, D and E viruses from lab test results.
Officials are investigating whether adenovirus could be the culprit – which has two strains known to infect dogs.
One of these mutations causes infectious hepatitis, the other is one of the pathogens that cause “kennel cough”.
Research continues, however, as adenoviruses usually only cause colds and stomach upset in children.
Three quarters of the 163 British children with hepatitis tested positive for adenovirus, an analysis shows.
However, the UKHSA said it was possible the others could have had the virus too, given the way the tests were carried out.
WARNING TO PARENTS
Some negative cases had only looked for adenovirus in respiratory and fecal samples – although it was mainly detected in blood.
But they have insisted the likelihood of most children contracting hepatitis remains “extremely small”.
dr Meera Chand, Director of Clinical and Emerging Infections at UKHSA, said: “We know this can be a worrying time for parents of young children.
“The chances of your child getting hepatitis are extremely low.
“However, we continue to remind parents to look out for signs of hepatitis – particularly jaundice, which is easiest to spot as a yellow tinge in the whites of the eyes – and to contact their doctor if they are concerned.
“Normal hygiene practices, including thorough handwashing and making sure children wash their hands properly, help reduce the spread of many common infections.
“As always, children with symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea should stay at home and not return to school or daycare until 48 hours after symptoms have resolved.
“Our research continues to suggest that there is an association with adenovirus, and our studies are now rigorously testing that association.
“We are also studying other contributors, including earlier SARS-COV-2, and are working closely with the NHS and academic partners to understand the mechanism of liver damage in affected children.”
The most common hepatitis warning signs:
- Dark urine
- Pale grey-colored feces
- 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
- stomach pain
https://www.thesun.ie/health/8757276/dogs-probed-cause-mysterious-hepatitis-outbreak/ Dogs being investigated as the cause of the mysterious outbreak of hepatitis as 18 more British children contracted the disease