My little girl is battling mystery hepatitis – it’s terrifying please don’t ignore these key signs
A MUM has urged others to be aware of the signs of hepatitis, as her little girl battles the condition in hospital.
It comes as an unusual outbreak of the liver inflammatory disease affects children in the UK.
As of May 10, some 197 children had experienced sudden hepatitis in the UK. This figure is due to be updated on Thursday.
Most patients have been under the age of 10.
Chloe Benham, of Wishaw, North Lanarkshire, was shocked when her daughter, Madison, became one of those children.
The four-year-old had been feeling under the weather in recent weeks.
But there was one key symptom that mum Chloe, 24, urged her to see a doctor.
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She told the Daily Record: "We had taken her to the GP because her dad noticed her urine was brown and we knew something must have been wrong.
"She had been sick on and off for the last few weeks, but apart from that she was her usual happy self.”
After doctors discovered hepatitis, Chloe said: "It came as a shock. We knew absolutely nothing about hepatitis.
"It was so unexpected, so I felt really stressed and confused as to how she had contracted it.
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"I want to make parents aware of the symptoms of hepatitis, so they can get their kids checked before it progresses."
Madison is in hospital and has now developed jaundice – yellowing of the skin and eyes.
Doctors are monitoring her liver function which is currently abnormal.
Chloe said: "Doctors said that she is over the worst but I can't help but worry.
"I now know if hepatitis goes undetected it can cause liver failure, so we were worried she would need a transplant.
"It's absolutely terrifying being in a situation like this, especially with no treatment for it.”
Chloe said the doctors are unsure how Madison became sick with liver inflammation.
UK health chiefs are still investigating why so many children have been struck in recent weeks, which is highly unusual.
They are focusing on adenovirus – a family of viruses that can cause tonsillitis, earache and colds – as a trigger for hepatitis.
Many children with hepatitis have tested positive for adenovirus, particularly the type that causes a tummy bug.
The UKHSA said symptoms to look out for in kids include vomiting and diarrhoea.
It said: "If your child develops the common mild symptoms that could be due to a viral infection, such as symptoms of a cold, vomiting or diarrhoea, the chance of them developing hepatitis is extremely low.
"Most children will soon recover following rest and plenty of fluids. You do not need to contact the NHS.
"If your child is getting rapidly worse or you are worried, trust your instincts and contact your GP or call the NHS on 111."
Hepatitis causes jaundice, dark urine, pale stools, itchy skin, vomiting, loss of appetite, tummy pain, muscle and joint pain, and a high temperature.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said there were now 348 probable cases of hepatitis globally.
Last week, experts ruled out a link with pet dogs after fears they were the souce of the outbreak.
Calum Semple, professor of child health and outbreak medicine at the University of Liverpool, said no role for either owning dogs or recent contact with dogs in cases of acute hepatitis had been found.
He said Covid was moving down the list of possible reasons, though other experts said it may still play a role indirectly and was still being looked at.
Deirdre Kelly, professor of paediatric hepatology at the University of Birmingham, said it was “highly unusual” to have so many cases of serious liver disease in children, with the UK usually seeing about 20 cases a year.
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She said: “Around 70 per cent of the children do have low levels of adenovirus in their blood.
“It’s very difficult to know whether this is the cause… or whether this was a trigger in the child who was susceptible for some other reason.”
Symptoms to look for in your kids
Hepatitis symptoms include:
- yellowing of the white part of the eyes or skin (jaundice)
- dark urine
- pale, grey-coloured faeces (poo)
- itchy skin
- muscle and joint pain
- a high temperature
- feeling and being sick
- feeling unusually tired all the time
- loss of appetite
- tummy pain
The UKHSA said jaundice and vomiting are the most common symptoms experienced by the children affected.
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