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July 13, 2016

What Is Elizabethkingia?

CDC, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) are investigating an outbreak of infections caused by a bacteria calledElizabethkingia anophelis, which is usually found in the environment. The majority of the infections identified to date have been bloodstream infections, but some patients have had Elizabethkingiaisolated from other sites, such as their respiratory systems or joints.

The majority of the patients who have had Elizabethkingia infections as part of this outbreak are over the age of 65 years, and all have had serious underlying health conditions. It has not yet been determined whether the deaths associated with this outbreak were caused by the bacterial infection, the patients’ underlying health conditions, or both.

Although Elizabethkingia is a common organism in the environment (water and soil), it rarely causes infections. CDC is assisting with testing samples from a variety of potential sources, including healthcare products, water sources and the environment; to date, none of these have been found to be a source of the bacteria. Currently, CDC has not advised healthcare facilities to change their infection prevention and control practices. Healthcare professionals should continue to follow both standard and contact precautions when caring for patients with suspected infection. This includes hand hygiene for healthcare providers and disinfection of the clinical environment.