Elizabethkingia Outbreak Reported in Wisconsin
The rare bacterial infection has sickened dozens
Wisconsin health authorities are investigating an outbreak of a rare bacterial infection called Elizabethkingia.
It has mainly affected people over 65 and those with a history of at least one serious illness, according to a statement released this week from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. Since November 1, 44 cases have been reported.
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"Elizabethkingia are bacteria that are rarely reported to cause illness in humans, and are uncommon colonizers of the respiratory tract," said the statement.
The cases were found in southern and southeastern Wisconsin, according to the Division of Public Health (DPH).
Elizabethkingia meningoseptica is a Gram negative, rod-shaped bacterium named after American bacteriologist Elizabeth King, who discovered it in 1959.
It’s widely distributed in soil, plants and water, but it rarely infects humans.
“Early detection and treatment with an effective antibiotic regimen is important to increase the probability of good outcomes,” the statement notes.
Although the bacteria are resistant to some drugs, tests on samples from the current outbreak show several types of antibiotics should work.
Symptoms include shortness of breath, fever, chills and cellulitis, a bacterial infection of the skin and tissues beneath it. A laboratory test is needed to confirm infection.
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