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Hospital reports two cases of rare, unexplained child liver illness in Minnesota

M Health Fairview is in the process of submitting these cases to the Minnesota Department of Health.

MINNEAPOLIS — A pediatric doctor with M Health Fairview is reporting two cases of unexplained, severe hepatitis in children in Minnesota that appear to match similar cases around the globe.

Dr. Heli Bhatt, a pediatric gastroenterologist and hepatologist with M Health Fairview Masonic Children’s Hospital, says a four-week-old baby received a liver transplant six months ago following unexplained, severe liver inflammation. Another, otherwise healthy child, is currently awaiting a liver transplant due to hepatitis with no known origin. M Health Fairview says one child is from Minnesota and the other is from South Dakota.

On Friday evening, the Minnesota Department of Health confirmed that it's investigating "several cases," saying they're waiting on additional clinical information and lab testing.

"What is unique about this situation is that they are really severe, and they are going on to need transplants, and even one death, which is what is mind boggling to call of us," said Dr. Bhatt. "I think the best thing you can do is not panic, good hand hygiene and let your pediatrician know if your kid is having symptoms."

This adds to the 19 other recent U.S. cases the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) calls unusual hepatitis in children.

The first cases started in Alabama where from Nov. 2021 to Feb. 2022 the CDC says nine healthy children had significant liver injury. Three of them had liver failure.

Wisconsin is now investigating four similar cases, one of whom died, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

The World Health Organization reported 170 similar cases worldwide as of Thursday where adenovirus was detected in 74 cases.

Hepatitis is commonly known as a virus, such as Hepatitis A, B, C, D or E, but the word itself means inflammation of the liver.

Signs and symptoms of hepatitis include fatigue, fever, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, dark urine, joint pain and jaundice.

Experts say it’s not unusual for immunocompromised children to develop liver problems, but to have it happen to healthy children is strange.

A new report released Friday by the CDC says all nine children in Alabama had tested negative for SARS-COV-2 with no documented history of COVID-19. Adenovirus was detected in all patients, according to the report.

Last week, the CDC issued a nationwide health alert, urging parents to be aware of the symptoms and contact their healthcare provider if they have any questions or concerns.

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