- Associated Press - Thursday, March 17, 2016

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Health officials have confirmed that a western Michigan resident died after contracting a bloodstream infection matching a Wisconsin outbreak.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services said Thursday that it was notified March 11 by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the match. The person was described as an older adult with underlying health conditions.

Officials were trying to determine where the infection was contracted, Michigan health department spokeswoman Jennifer Eisner said in an email.

In Wisconsin, 17 people with infections caused by Elizabethkingia (ee-LIZ’-ah-beth-kin-GEE’-ah) bacteria have died since November. The outbreak is the largest recorded in published literature, officials have said.

Wisconsin health officials said on their website earlier this month that the total number of reported cases stood then at 48. Infections were centered in the heavily populated southeastern quarter of the state, including the Milwaukee area and surrounding suburban counties.

The bacterium is named for Elizabeth O. King, a CDC bacteriologist who studied meningitis in infants. The organism is common in the environment, including water and soil, but it rarely causes infections.

The Michigan case has the “same genetic fingerprint” as the ones in Wisconsin, CDC spokeswoman Melissa Brower told The Associated Press on Thursday.

“We really don’t know how this person in Michigan may have contracted it,” Brower added. But “it shouldn’t be assumed that this person has been in Wisconsin because it’s the same geographic region” as Michigan, she said.

The majority of the Wisconsin patients infected are 65 or older with a history of at least one underlying serious illness, Wisconsin’s health department said. Those who died all tested positive for the infection, but it’s not known if Elizabethkingia caused or contributed to their deaths.

Generally, each state sees about five to 10 cases of the bacteria per year, according to the CDC.

___

Online:

Details on Wisconsin outbreak: http://1.usa.gov/1SVEKZ2

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