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Diet Supplement Investigated in Hawaiʻi Liver Failure Cases

Posted September 27, 2013, 12:51 PM HST
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Hospital lab file photo by Wendy Osher.

Hospital lab file photo by Wendy Osher.

By Maui Now Staff

Health officials in Hawaiʻi are investigating at least 10 cases of acute liver failure and inflammation in which the only common finding is the patient’s use of dietary or nutritional supplements.

State health officials say the cases have been negative for infectious causes, have no history of engaging in high-risk social activities, and have no identified commonly expected risk factors for liver failure.

“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 or muscle gain,” health officials said in a press release advisory issued today.

The cases were reported over a four month period between May and September 2013, with reports in every major county in the state.

State Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park said the investigation is still in its early stages, and an exact source of the condition has not yet been identified; “However,” she said, “we want to alert the public because of our concern that more people could potentially become ill.”

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Hawaiʻi health officials say, “the investigation may involve a federally regulated supplement with national distribution.”

The Department of Health is reportedly collaborating with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the US Food and Drug Administration.

In the interim, an advisory has been issued to clinics and medical facilities to help in identifying more cases.

Health officials advise that persons with symptoms including abdominal pain or discomfort, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, and yellow skin or eyes, should consult their health care provider.

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