The rare blood infection has already killed 17 people in 54 cases.
It’s an unprecedented outbreak of a rare blood infection, and now it’s spread to a second state.
The Elizabethkingia bacteria began in Wisconsin but has since spread to Michigan, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services confirmed in a statement.
A patient who died recently tested positive for the bacteria, which is often found in the environment but rarely infects humans. The patient was an older adult who had pre-existing health conditions.
So far, the infection is believed to have caused 17 deaths out of 54 cases in Wisconsin. The outbreak has sent authorities scrambling to get a handle on the situation, and now Michigan is working with Wisconsin and the CDC to contain it.
Elizabethkingia bacteria is found in soil, river water, and reservoirs, and typically causes illness in those who already have compromised immune systems.
Symptoms include shortness of breath, cellulitis, fever, and chills. It’s a difficult disease to stop with antibiotics, so it is key to spot the infection early.
“Michigan has worked closely with the CDC and Wisconsin Health Department to alert our provider community about the Wisconsin outbreak and to ensure early recognition of potential cases in our state,” Dr. Eden Wells, chief medical executive of the MDHHS, said in the statement. “Timely diagnosis is key to ensuring patients receive appropriate treatment, and we will continue to provide updates and guidance as additional information becomes available.”
So far, the Wisconsin Division of Public Health has detected 54 cases, but there could be more. Most of the people who are sick are over 65 years of age and head underlying health problems.