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Parents urged to watch for hepatitis, inflammation symptoms in kids

The Department of Health is investigating three cases of children under 3 who had liver inflammation and may be part of a national cluster of hepatitis in kids.

MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Department of Health is telling parents to be on the lookout for signs of inflammation as more cases of hepatitis in children are reported across the country.

The department of health is now investigating three cases of liver inflammation in children in Minnesota under the age of 3 that may be part of a national cluster of hepatitis in kids.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. health officials are currently looking into more than 100 possible cases of the mysterious and severe liver disease, including five deaths.

The cause of the inflammation is still unclear, according to health officials, but may be associated with adenovirus type 41.

There are dozens of adenoviruses, and many are associated with coldlike symptoms, fever, sore throat and pink eye. But some versions can trigger other problems, including inflammation in the stomach and intestines. Officials are exploring a link to one particular version that’s normally associated with gut inflammation.

Signs and symptoms of liver inflammation can include jaundice, or yellowing of the skin or eyes, fatigue, fever, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, dark urine and joint pain.

MDH says one child needed a liver transplant and has since recovered, while the other two cases recovered without the need for a liver transplant. Epidemiologists are aware of at least two other possible cases at local hospitals in children that aren't Minnesota residents.

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

On April 29, M Health Fairview confirmed to KARE 11 it was treating a 2-year-old from South Dakota for severe hepatitis.

The toddler, named Baelyn, was initially brought to her doctor for an allergic reaction and given Epinephrine, her mother Kelsea Schwab said. After repeated visits to her doctors in South Dakota, Schwab was told something was wrong with Baelyn's liver and that she needed to be transferred to Masonic Children's Hospital in the Twin Cities, where she's awaiting a liver transplant.

Family friends have set up a GoFundMe page to support Baelyn and her family.

About two dozen states reported suspected cases after the CDC put out a call for doctors to be on the lookout for surprising cases of hepatitis. The cases date back to late October in children under 10. 

This week, the World Health Organization officials said they had reports of almost 300 probable cases in 20 countries.

In the U.S., 94% of the children were hospitalized and eight received liver transplants.

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