State investigating liver illness cases

At least 10 cases of acute liver inflammation and failure have been reported statewide – including in Maui County – from May to September – and the only common point so far is the use of a dietary or nutritional supplement for weight loss or muscle gain, the state Health Department said.

Thus far, the cases being investigated by the Health Department have been negative for infectious causes. Those with the liver issues have no history of engaging in high-risk social activities and have no identified commonly expected risk factors for liver failure, the Health Department said Thursday.

The only common finding among all the cases, at this point, is the use of a dietary or nutritional supplement for the purpose of weight loss and/or muscle gain in the past six months.

“We are still in the early stages of this investigation, and we have not identified the exact source of this condition,” said Dr. Sarah Park, state epidemiologist. “However, we want to alert the public because of our concern that more people could potentially become ill.”

The Health Department has issued a statewide “medical advisory” to clinicians, clinics and emergency departments to facilitate identifying more possible cases. The department is collaborating closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S.

Food and Drug Administration because the investigation may involve a federally regulated supplement with national distribution, the department said.

The department urges all people who use dietary or nutritional supplements for weight loss and/or muscle gain to do so with caution and under their health care providers’ guidance and monitoring. People who develop symptoms such as abdominal pain or discomfort, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea and/or vomiting and yellow skin or eyes, should consult their health care provider immediately.