Mysterious pediatric liver disease found in Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Department of Health said it’s investigating several severe cases of hepatitis among children and has reported the cases to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC continues to investigate cases of the sudden liver disease in nearly 200 children that has health authorities in several countries racing to find answers. The illness is being called hepatitis of unknown origin. The cases have no known connection, although a link with a virus that can cause colds is being investigated.

M Health Fairview reported two cases to MDH, which involve an infant and a two-year-old. One of the patients was treated several months ago, which included a liver transplant, hospital officials said.

“Why this kid had such severe acute hepatitis is unknown,” said Dr. Heli Bhatt, M Health Fairview Pediatric Gastroenterologist and Transplant Hepatologist. “It was kind of fitting enough for me to let Minnesota Department of Health know and they are going to investigate the case further.”

The other patient is currently in the hospital and is on the transplant list, Dr. Bhatt told KSTP-TV.

“I pray for that kid to turn around, which they might, but some of those indicators do say that it is severe and so we have evaluated this patient for transplant,” she said.

Dr. Bhatt explained additional lab testing is pending.

“Right now, a lot is unknown,” she said. “We are blaming all of this on adenovirus, and yes a lot of cases do have this adenovirus, but whether it is just that kid had adenovirus and had this, is it coincidental or proven? We don’t know.”

The CDC sent out an alert to physicians last week regarding severe hepatitis cases. The agency encouraged doctors to test children with severe liver illness for the adenovirus.