Health officials confirm 3 cases of liver inflammation in Minnesota kids

Minnesota health officials are asking parents to watch for signs of hepatitis in kids after three children under the age of 3 have been confirmed to have liver inflammation that may be part of a national cluster of hepatitis in children. 

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) on Friday asked parents to watch for signs of liver inflammation in their children, including bouts with either upper respiratory or stomach-intestinal illnesses, after a cluster of hepatitis cases of "unknown origin" were reported among kids in multiple states. Signs of liver inflammation can also include yellowing of the eyes or skin. 

"If your child recently had vomiting and diarrhea or symptoms of a common cold and then develops yellowing of the eyes and skin, it is important to have your child evaluated by a health care provider right away," said Minnesota State Epidemiologist Dr. Ruth Lynfield. "Other symptoms can include abdominal pain, fatigue, dark urine and clay-colored stools. Getting medical care quickly can help diagnose and treat the condition as needed."

Cases among kids are rare — in about 10% of those affected, the liver inflammation has led to liver failure and the need for a liver transplant. 

MDH epidemiologists are investigating three cases among Minnesota kids under the age of 3 who had liver inflammation that may be part of this national cluster of hepatitis in kids. Among these cases, one child required a liver transplant and has recovered, while the other two cases recovered without the need for a transplant. 

There are also two other kids with possible cases in Minnesota hospitals who are not Minnesota residents, MDH said. The state began looking into possible cases in Minnesota after learning of cases in Europe and other areas in the U.S. 

"We’re grateful for the reports we’ve received from clinicians so far and look forward to continuing to work with them in this investigation," Dr. Lynfield said. "The more information we can gather, the faster we can help determine how best to protect other children."


The cause of these cases is under investigation but MDH says hepatitis may be associated with infection with a type of virus known as adenovirus type 41. Some of the reported illnesses in the U.S. date back to last fall, with the illnesses occurring in kids younger than 10. 

The CDC announced on Friday that 109 kids in 25 states have been identified as part of this cluster of cases and the World Health Organization has identified at least 228 probable cases in 20 countries. Among the national cases, before the child was hospitalized, most of the children vomited and had diarrhea, while others had respiratory symptoms. While they were in the hospital, the children had yellowing eyes and skin, as well as an enlarged liver. 

MDH recommends to people trying to protect themselves to frequently wash their hands, avoid touching their eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands, cover your coughs and sneezes, and avoid close contact with people who are sick.