Minnesota hospitals report cases of sudden hepatitis in children

A puzzling outbreak of a sudden liver disease in children has been confirmed in Minnesota. 

The Minnesota Department of Health confirmed they are investigating several cases of hepatitis in children reported by hospital systems. M Health Fairview confirmed they have reported at least two cases of hepatitis from an unknown origin. 

The mysterious, severe and acute illness has been spreading across the globe, with more than 100 confirmed cases worldwide so far. Health officials say it’s too soon to tell what's behind it all.

Child hepatitis death in Wisconsin

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) is investigating at least four cases of adenovirus-associated hepatitis among children in the state. This includes two children who had severe outcomes, one liver transplant, and one fatality.

As a result, DHS issued on Friday, April 29 a Health Alert Network (HAN) Health Advisory to notify clinicians and public health authorities of the recent increase in cases of acute hepatitis and adenovirus infection in children.

Sudden liver disease in children: Everything we know

Source: Associated Press

THE BASICS: Previously healthy children are suddenly developing hepatitis, or liver inflammation often caused by viruses. Jaundice, diarrhea and abdominal pain are among reported symptoms. Children aged 1 month to 16 years have been affected. Most cases have occurred in Europe. The first U.K. cases were recorded in January. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a nationwide health alert last week that the first U.S. cases were identified in October in Alabama.

THE DISEASE: Hepatitis is usually caused by one of several contagious hepatitis viruses that have not been found in the affected children. Sometimes the disease is mild and requires no specific treatment. But severe cases require hospitalization and can lead to liver failure.

THE CAUSE: Authorities are uncertain what is causing the outbreak. Nine children in the Alabama cluster tested positive for adenovirus. Some types of the virus can cause colds but authorities are also looking at a version that can cause digestive problems. It is unknown whether that virus is a cause or is somehow contributing to the outbreak.

LOCATIONS: Cases have been reported in at least a dozen countries, including Denmark, England, France, Ireland, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Scotland, Spain, and the United Kingdom. In the United States, cases have also occurred in Illinois and North Carolina.

The CDC says all physicians should be on the lookout for symptoms and report any suspected case of what's called hepatitis of unknown origin.