Elizabethkingia in Illinois

10 Illinois residents have been diagnosed with infections caused by a strain of Elizabethkingia anophelis that is different from the outbreak in Wisconsin
*Please note that numbers are provisional and may be subject to change.

Elizabethkingia bacteria are rarely reported to cause illness in humans.  Symptoms among people diagnosed with Elizabethkingia infection can include fever, shortness of breath, chills or cellulitis. Confirmation of the illness requires a laboratory test.

IDPH is currently investigating a cluster of bacterial infections caused by Elizabethkingia anophelis.  The majority of patients acquiring these infections are over 65 years old, and all patients have a history of at least one underlying serious illness.

To date, Wisconsin is reporting 59 confirmed cases, including 18 deaths; Michigan is reporting one confirmed case, including one death.  Illinois has one case matching the strain found in Wisconsin.  The remaining 10 cases in the current cluster are of a different strain.

At this time, the source of these infections is still unknown.  IDPH is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Wisconsin and Michigan Departments of Public Health to conduct a comprehensive investigation which includes:

  • Interviewing patients with Elizabethkingia anophelis infection and/or their families to gather information about activities and exposures related to healthcare products, food, water, restaurants, and other community settings
  • Obtaining environmental and product samples from facilities that have treated patients with Elizabethkingia anophelis infections 
  • Conducting a review of medical records
  • Obtaining nose and throat swabs from individuals receiving care on the same units in health care facilities as a patient with a confirmed Elizabethkingia anophelis to determine if they are carrying the bacteria  
  • Obtaining nose and throat swabs from household contacts of patients with confirmed cases to identify if there may have been exposure in their household environment
  • Performing a “social network” analysis to examine any commonalities shared between patients including health care facilities or shared locations or activities in the community

For more outbreak and disease information about Elizabethkingia anophelis, please visit CDC’s website.