The Illinois Department of Public Health announced Tuesday an Illinois resident died after contracting an infection from the bacterium Elizabethkingia anophelis
The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is reporting that tests from an Illinois resident match those from a Wisconsin outbreak of Elizabethkingia anophelis. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services have been investigating an outbreak of infections caused by a bacteria called Elizabethkingia anophelis, which is usually found in the environment.
“Illinois is working closely with the CDC and Wisconsin and Michigan health officials to investigate this outbreak and develop ways to prevent additional infections,” said IDPH Director Nirav D. Shah, M.D., J.D. “IDPH will continue to coordinate with hospitals and health care providers to quickly identify and report cases of Elizabethkingia.”
In early February, and again in March, IDPH sent alerts to hospitals requesting they report all cases of Elizabethkingia and save any specimens for possible testing at public health laboratories.
To date, Wisconsin is reporting 57 confirmed cases, including 18 deaths; Michigan is reporting one confirmed case, including one death; and Illinois is reporting one confirmed case, including one death.
Fever, chills, cough, joint pain and in some cases a skin condition
The majority of the infections identified to date have been bloodstream infections, but some patients have had Elizabethkingia isolated from other sites, such as their respiratory systems or joints. The majority of the patients who have had Elizabethkingia infections as part of this outbreak are over age 65, and all have had underlying health conditions. It has not yet been determined whether the deaths associated with this outbreak were caused by the bacterial infection, the patients’ underlying health conditions, or both.
Although Elizabethkingia is a common organism in the environment (water and soil), it rarely causes infections. The organism was initially isolated in the gut of a mosquito. Health officials are testing samples from a variety of potential sources, including health care products, water sources, and the environment. To date, none of these has been identified as the source of the bacteria.
Officials are investigating the source of the outbreak. Mosquitoes have not been identified as a cause of the outbreak.
While the source of these infections is still unknown, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services is working with disease detectives from the Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
A comprehensive investigation which includes:
• Interviewing patients with Elizabethkingia anophelis infection and/or their families to gather information about activities and exposures related to healthcare products, food, water, restaurants, and other community settings.
• Obtaining environmental and product samples from facilities that have treated patients with Elizabethkingia anophelis infections. To date, these samples have tested negative and there is no indication the bacteria was spread by a single healthcare facility.
Conducting a review of medical records.
• Obtaining nose and throat swabs from individuals receiving care on the same units in health care facilities as a patient with a confirmed Elizabethkingia anophelis to determine if they are carrying the bacteria. To date, all of these specimens tested negative, which suggests the bacteria is not spreading from person to person in healthcare settings.
• Obtaining nose and throat swabs from household contacts of patients with confirmed cases to identify if there may have been exposure in their household environment.
• Performing a “social network” analysis to examine any commonalities shared between patients including healthcare facilities or shared locations or activities in the community.
The cases in Wisconsin have been discovered in 11 counties: Columbia, Dane, Dodge, Fond du Lac, Jefferson, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Sauk, Washington and Waukesha.
The first Illinois case was discovered in a 52-year-old Lake Villa resident, Kimberly Cencula. Lake Villa is in Lake County Illinois about
The Elizabethkingia anophelis bacterium is named after Elizabeth O. King, a bacteriologist who studied meningitis in infants.
Elizabethkingia anophelis is a bacterium isolated in 2011 from the midgut of Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes originating from MacCarthy Island, The Gambia.
Anopheles is Greek for “useless” and is the name of a genus of mosquito first described and named by J. W. Meigen in 1818.
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