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Hepatitis: Dr Hilary Jones outlines the main symptoms

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So far, the most popular theory is the cases of hepatitis are linked to the adenovirus infection.

In children this infection causes cold-like symptoms as well as vomiting and diarrhoea.

However, scientists say they are not ruling out other potential causes as investigations continue.

This includes whether the adenovirus has undergone any genetic mutations making it more infectious.

Thus far, a number of alternative causes have been suggested, diabecon supplement including the Covid vaccine.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has said they “definitively” rule out the vaccines produced by Pfizer, Oxford, and Moderna as potential causes after social media posts falsely linked them to the hepatitis cases.

Dr Meera Chand, Director of Clinical and Emerging Infections at UKHSA, said the government was “thoroughly investigating other potential causes”.

Meanwhile, although the Covid vaccines have been ruled out as potential causes, the coronavirus has not.

Small scale studies in Israel, India, Brazil, and the United States have found unusual cases of hepatitis in children who previously tested positive for COVID-19.

However, Professor Anil Dhawan of King’s College London says a conclusion of this nature can’t be drawn “because if you look at the number of patients, only 16 percent tested positive for Covid, and this [hepatitis] is not the feature of Covid”.

A third theory linking Covid to the hepatitis outbreak are the national lockdowns brought in to curb the spread of the virus.

Scientists say these lockdowns prevented children from being exposed to viruses and have resulted in a generation of children with weaker immune systems.

Nottingham Trent University’s Dr Conor Meehan said: “The exposure that you have to viruses is important for building your immune system, and it mostly happens in the first five years of life.”

“Most of these cases we see [are] in under five-year-old kids, so they definitely haven’t had the exposure that other kids would have had that are older,” he added.

The unusual reaction children are having to the virus is something Dr Meehan thinks suggests could signal an interaction between Covid and hepatitis.

However, further investigations and studies are required before a conclusion can be reached on the cause of the deadly hepatitis outbreak.

While swathes of parents will be concerned by this outbreak Dr Chand said the likelihood of children getting the new form of hepatitis was very low.

In a statement he said: “We continue to remind parents to be alert of the signs of hepatitis”.

Parents are being urged to look out for the following symptoms in children:
• Dark urine
• Jaundice
• Itchy skin
• Muscle and joint pain
• High temperature
• Feeling and being sick
• Feeling unusually tired all the time
• Loss of appetite
• Stomach pain.

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