At least 10 U.S. states have reported mysterious pediatric hepatitis cases as part of a mysterious global outbreak. Minnesota has emerged as the latest state to report several severe cases of liver inflammation in children, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday.
Previously healthy children are suddenly developing hepatitis, or liver inflammation often caused by viruses. Wisconsin issued a health alert after four cases were reported, including one that resulted in death. Cases were also reported in Alabama, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, New York, North Carolina and Tennessee.
In Minnesota, one of the latest to see cases, two children have required liver transplants. One of them still waiting.
Last week, the CDC shared clinical data from Alabama, where the first cases were found, showing that patients were from different parts of the state with no epidemiologic links.
According to the CDC analysis, all patients were considered generally healthy, with no significant comorbidities and no immune system weakness. The median age was about three years, ranging from younger than two to older than five years.
The mysterious outbreak is being felt on a global scale. The World Health Organization announced a week ago that a dozen countries have reported 169 cases of acute hepatitis among children. 114 of them have been recorded in the UK.
The cases have no known connection, although a link with adenovirus that can cause colds is being investigated. The CDC sent out an alert to physicians nationwide a week ago, encouraging them to test children with severe liver illness for the adenovirus.
Doctors are now referring to the illness as “hepatitis of unknown origin.”