Wisconsin Doctors on the Lookout for Hepatitis Cases

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services is asking doctors in the state to be on the lookout for possible cases of acute hepatitis after health officials discovered instances of severe liver damage in four children. In one case, a child needed a liver transplant as a result, and in another, the child died.

Wisconsin is the fourth state to announce an investigation into the unusual circumstances surrounding the cases of hepatitis. In the U.S., at least 109 children in 25 states have been identified with cases, and of those, five have died. The World Health Organization reports more than 200 cases in 20 countries across the globe.

According to Doctor Victor Uko of the Gundersen Health System, those who have contracted the illness so far have become quite sick and required hospitalization. The most recognizable symptoms of hepatitis include abdominal pain, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea and – most importantly – jaundice.  Uko says that’s an indicator of something going on.

The number of cases in Wisconsin is low compared to other parts of the country, but Dr. Uko said he’s concerned enough about the outbreak to be vigilant. The CDC says children who contracted the illness were previously healthy with no underlying conditions. Though that raises concern among providers, Dr. Uko urges parents not to overreact.

He says if parents see any of these symptoms, they should first contact their child’s primary care provider because there are a host of other viral infections that can cause similar ailments to hepatitis.

Uko stressed that early data shows no link between this illness and COVID-19 or its vaccines.