Wisconsin deaths linked
to bacteria lowered to 15
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[March 11, 2016]
(Reuters) - Wisconsin officials have
revised down to 15 the number of deaths that may be related to an
outbreak of Elizabethkingia bacteria that has infected a total of 48
people, most of them elderly, over the past five months.
Earlier, the state said there were 18 deaths possibly linked to the
bacteria, but it revised the figure lower due to unconfirmed
Elizabethkingia infections, duplicate reports and other issues, the
Wisconsin Department of Health Services said in a statement.
The outbreak of the rare infection in southeastern and southern
Wisconsin between Nov. 1 and March 9 has mostly affected patients
older than 65 who have a history of at least one underlying serious
"This (15) is the number of people with confirmed Elizabethkingia
infections, who later died," the statement said. "It has not been
determined if these deaths were caused by the infection or other
serious pre-existing health problems."
Investigators from Wisconsin and the national Centers for Disease
Control are looking into possible sources of the outbreak of the
bacteria, which is rarely reported to cause illness in humans and
can sometimes be found in the respiratory tract.
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The CDC has eight disease detectives in Wisconsin helping with the
investigation, as well as laboratory staff in headquarters in
The experts have tested samples from potential sources including
healthcare products, water sources and the environment, but so far
have not found a source for the infection, the CDC said in a
statement on Thursday.
Symptoms of Elizabethkingia infection can include fever, shortness
of breath, and chills or cellulitis. Confirmation of the illness
requires a laboratory test.
(Reporting by Fiona Ortiz in Chicago; Editing by Bernadette Baum)
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