Cases reported overseas of acute severe hepatitis in children

May 4, 2022

Cases of children with severe hepatitis of unknown origin have been reported in the media in recent weeks. The WHO advises that further investigations are ongoing.

Key Messages:
•    This is a rare occurrence.
•    There has not been an unusual spike in cases in Australia.
•    Ongoing surveillance in Australia is occurring.
•    It is not known if there is a link to COVID-19. There is no known link to the COVID-19 vaccine.
•    Practice thorough hand washing (including supervising children).
•    Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
•    Contact your health professional if you are concerned about your child’s health.

Gastroenterological Society of Australia paediatric hepatologist Professor Winita Hardikar offers the following clinical advice to parents/carers: “In Australia, each year we see a small number of children with an unexplained hepatitis, some of whom are sick enough to require a liver transplant. We have not seen an unusual spike in cases here but are undertaking surveillance.”

Monitoring Symptoms: 
Parents/Carers should be alert to the symptoms and contact a healthcare professional without delay if they are concerned.
•    Symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, loss of appetite or fever (above 38 degrees).
•    Patients might develop yellow colouring of the skin and eyes, called ‘jaundice,’ along with dark urine and pale-coloured faeces (poo).

For Further Advice Contact Your Health Professional:

  • In Victoria, speak to a nurse by calling  ‘Nurse on Call’ 1300 60 60 24 .
  • In all other states, contact Healthdirect: 1800 022 222.
  • Call your General Practice to speak with a GP or Practice Nurse.
  • For emergencies go to a local hospital Emergency Department or call an ambulance.
Gastroenterological Society of Australia (GESA) statement
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