The largest outbreak of Elizabethkingia anophelis ever documented in the United States has hit the third state following Wisconsin and Michigan as Illinois health officials report tests from an resident match those from a Wisconsin outbreak.
“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 Wisconsin, Governor Scott Walker approved nine (9) project positions at the Department of Health Services (DHS) to ensure the Division of Public Health (DPH) has adequate staff to address ongoing and emerging outbreaks related to public health. DPH is experiencing an increased workload due to the Elizabethkingia anophelis outbreak, as well as other infectious diseases including Zika virus, and a recent increase in Tuberculosis (TB) cases.
“It is important for us to make sure DPH has the resources needed to address the Elizabethkingia outbreak, and also maintain the ability to appropriately respond to other communicable disease outbreaks,” said DHS Secretary Kitty Rhoades. “The health of all Wisconsinites is, and will continue to be, our top priority.”
“The Elizabethkingia outbreak is unique to Wisconsin, which adds to the complexity of the investigation, and intensity of the workload,” said Karen McKeown, Wisconsin State Health Officer. “With these positions, we can continue our work on prevention, education, detection and eradication related to the many communicable disease reports that come into our office.”
In Wisconsin, there have been 63 cases of Elizabethkingia reported to DPH, including 57 confirmed cases, two cases under investigation, and four possible cases in which testing is no longer possible. Of those infected, 19 people have died in Wisconsin, including one death among possible cases. It is unclear if these deaths were caused by the infection, other underlying serious health conditions, or both.
DHS has been working with partners from the CDC, the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene, local health departments, and impacted health care facilities and clinicians to find the source of the bacteria and prevent further infections.
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