Federal Health Officials Help In Search For Deadly Bacteria

More Than a Dozen Deaths in Southern Wisconsin Linked to Elizabethkingia

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Disease investigators from the Centers for Disease Control are in Wisconsin to help local health officials find the source of a bacteria that has infected 44 people and been linked to 18 deaths.

The bacteria is called Elizabethkingia, and the Department of Health Serivces says all of the cases are concentrated in southern Wisconsin. State Health Officer Karen McKeown said they’re working hard to determine how people are infected with the bacteria, which is often difficult to treat with antibiotics.

“If at all possible, we talk to the patient themselves,” she said. “We also talk to their famly members and their caregivers. And we’re trying to find out who have they seen, where have they been, what have they been in contact with. And we’re looking for any clue as to what may be the source of the bacteria.”

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McKeown said most of those infected are over age 65 and have serious underlying health conditions. Symptoms include fever, shortness of breath, chills or a bacterial skin infection.

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