5 things to know about Elizabethkingia bacteria


A rarely reported bacteria Elizabethkingia is increasingly spreading across the United States with cases in three states and at least 20 deaths from confirmed cases so far. 

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Here is what you need to know about Elizabethkingia anophelis.

5 things to know about Elizabethkingia bacteria

1. The bacteria does not usually cause illness in humans. It is a bacteria commonly found in river water, reservoirs soil. Those with weakened immune systems are more at risk.

2. It is currently spreading across some Midwestern states. The CDC reported that, as of Wednesday, three states have reported confirmed cases and deaths: Wisconsin, Michigan and Illinois. Wisconsin has 59 confirmed cases and 18 deaths among those cases. Michigan has 1 confirmed case which includes a death. One confirmed case, which also includes a death, is in Illinois.

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3. Symptoms include fever, chills, a bacterial skin infection called cellulitis and shortness of breath. To confirm the illness, a lab test is required.

4. The strain in most cases can be treated with early recognition. The CDC reported that several antibiotics can be used to treat the bacteria.

5. An outbreak is rare. ‘Most of the time we’ll see very sporadic cases, maybe one or two a year if that. And most of them are in the context of some association of the health care facility,’ Dr. Nasia Safdar, director of infection control at UW Hospital and Clinics and faculty at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health told Wisconsin Public radio. Safdar added that she does not think the public needs to worry about the spread because it ‘infects a very small proportion of people.’

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