In just four months, over 50 people have become ill and 17 have died from a mysterious disease that has broken out in Wisconsin. A bacteria known as Elizabethkingia Meningoseptica is quite widely distributed throughout nature in freshwater, salt water and soil. However, cases of humans contracting it are rare and normally isolated to people with weak immune systems such as infants and elderly. That’s why CDC researchers are a bit baffled by the drastic increase of infection and 17 deaths seen in Wisconsin.
The rare blood infection cause fever, chills and shortness of breathe. This is because infection with Elizabethkingia Meningoseptica predominately causes meningitis. The CDC has sent a team of 7 members after the state of Wisconsin reached out for help. They are currently researching the the source of the outbreak, which is hard to do. Especially in this case.
Past smaller outbreaks were all isolated to a single source, such as a contaminated hospital sink tap. This allowed the CDC to look at records and see what each infected patient had in common and eventually isolated the source of the bacteria. The case in Wisconsin is more spread out. The majority of infected patients have been elderly, but the 50 people infected all live in 12 different counties…This has made the CDC have to re-think their plan of approach. Rather than going through records they’ll have to go patient to patient and ask questions in order to narrow down and eventually determine a common source. Maybe it’s a hand lotion or cream popular with the elderly that used contaminated water. Who knows. I just know I’m glad I don’t have to try to figure it. It’s going to be like finding a needle in a hay stack. Actually it’s finding a bacteria in a state…that’s a bit harder than finding a needle in a hay stack.
Luckily the number of 17 dead has stayed constant as hospitals have learned how to treat the once mysterious infection. But this doesn’t mean the outbreak has stopped. The CDC will be working tirelessly with infected patients to pin down a single source and stop it’s spreading. Thank you CDC.