Recently, Wisconsin’s Health Department declared that it has asked the help of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in its efforts to contain a rare infection. According to Wisconsin’s official, the outbreak, which started in November, has claimed the lives of 17 people and no progress has been made towards finding a viable cure.
While Wisconsin still battles to contain the strange malady, Michigan’s Health Department announced that it had identified a case of the infection. The patient, whose name was not disclosed, died shortly after being diagnosed with the strange illness.
According to the medical specialists, the disease that sickened approximately 54 people in two states is transmitted by a waterborne bacteria named Elizabethkingia meningoseptica. This germ is capable of causing a condition called Elizabethkingiam that, according to physicians, behaves similarly to meningitis.
Discovered in the late 50’ by Elizabeth O. King, an eminent bacteriologist who was working side-by-side with the CDC, can cause symptoms such as fever, cellulitis, shortness of breath and chill. Also known as being a gram-negative bacteria, the Elizabethkingia meningoseptica was linked in 1958 to several cases of meningitis which occurred in children’s hospitals.
Sixty years later, the health authorities have to stand in the ring for a round 2 with the resistant bacteria. According to Wisconsin’s Health Department and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, there is little doctors can do for patients infected with this strain.
The high death toll is attributed to the fact that the germ is antibiotic-resistant. Moreover, according to the specialists, not even the most powerful antibiotics did not impact the outcome of the disease.
Presently, the two health department and the CDC are investigating the bodies of those who perished after being infected by the disease. The autopsies should provide researchers with a clue on whether the patients died due to the infection or if the actual infection aggravated and underlying condition.
According to several physicians, the disease seems to target patients over 65 years old who have a weak immune system. However, they believe that the infection can be contracted by those who either have a weak immune system or an underlying condition.
Tom Skinner, a spokesperson for the CDC, said that many researchers are burning the midnight oil to solve this deadly puzzle.
Elizabethkingia meningoseptica typically resides in the soil, but, according to the latest research, the bacteria pretty much prefers water over the soil. The bacteria can also be found in the waters of rivers or reservoirs.
Until they can find a method to contain the outbreak, the doctors urged the general population to drink only bottled water and to avoid contact with those suspected of having the disease.