Mysterious Illness Kills Eighteen in Wisconsin

Elizabethkingia, a rare bacteria that infects the blood, has taken the lives of eighteen people in Wisconsin.  Since last November, there have been 44 people infected, but as of today, the CDC and the Department of Health Services in Wisconsin have not pinpointed the source.

The CDC said that although Elizabethkingia is a common organism in the environment, including water and soil, it rarely causes infections. A variety of potential sources, including healthcare products, water sources and the environment, was being tested, the CDC said, but none of these have been found to be a source of the bacteria.

Interviews with those infected were being done by CDC and state investigators.

“What does their lives look like that could give us a clue as to where they came in contact with the bacteria?” McKeown asked out loud. Family members of those who died were also interviewed.

“Even as they’re grieving, they are providing information to help,” she said.

Symptoms may include fever, shortness of breath, chills or skin rash, but only a blood test can determine if it is the Elizabethkingia bacteria.

Source:  Chicago Tribune




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