Death of Illinois Resident Linked to Wisconsin Elizabethkingia Outbreak

By on 4:01 AM

Photo Credit: CDC's Special Bacteriology Reference Lab

The Illinois Department of Public Health has announced a deceased Illinois resident had bacteria matching that from the Wisconsin outbreak of Elizabethkingia anophelis.

Tests confirmed the presence of Elizabethkingia in the resident. To date (April 13, 2016), Wisconsin has reported 57 confirmed cases, including 18 deaths; Michigan reported one confirmed case, including one death; and Illinois is now reporting the one confirmed case and death.

Elizabethkingia anophelis is usually found in the environment but rarely causes infections. The majority of the infections identified to date have been bloodstream infections, but some patients have had Elizabethkingia isolated from other sites, such as their respiratory systems or joints.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is assisting with testing samples from a variety of potential sources, including healthcare products, water sources and the environment; to date, none have been found to be a source of the bacteria.

As CDC notes, Elizabethkingia are Gram-negative bacteria that tend to be naturally resistant to many of the antibiotics typically used to treat infections. However, the strain responsible for most of the cases in the current outbreak can be treated with several other antibiotics, so early recognition of the bacteria is critical to ensure patients receive appropriate diagnosis and treatment.

Confirmation of the species Elizabethkingia anophelis and determining whether cases are part of the ongoing outbreak is done through MALDI-TOF (which detects the protein fingerprints of a microbe) and optical mapping at CDC.

Phenelle Segal, RN, CIC, FAPIC

Phenelle Segal, RN, CIC, FAPIC, is the founder and president of Infection Control Consulting Services LLC (ICCS). Phenelle has more than 30 years' experience providing customized comprehensive infection control and prevention services to healthcare facilities nationwide. Her services focus on assisting hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, dental office and oral surgery practices, doctor's offices, nursing homes and other organizations with implementing and maintaining an infection control program that: complies with The Joint Commission, AAAHC, Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) and other regulatory agencies; respond to situations of noncompliance; and improve the processes for reducing risk.