Illinois Resident Dies of Infection That Killed 18 in Wisconsin

Elizabethkingia is a common organism in water and soil, but rarely causes infections

A death in Illinois has been linked to the same strain of bacteria that has caused an unprecedented outbreak of infection in Wisconsin, sickening and killing 18 people in the state.

The Illinois Department of Public Health announced Tuesday an Illinois resident died after contracting an infection from the bacterium Elizabethkingia. The resident was from the northern part of the state and had underlying health conditions, officials said.

The department's been working with federal and state health officials to investigate the outbreak. It is the first confirmed case in Illinois.

By Tuesday, Wisconsin had reported 57 confirmed cases, including 18 deaths, more than any other state. Michigan has reported at least one fatal case. 

The rare bloodstream infection is named for Elizabeth O. King, a bacteriologist who studied meningitis in infants. It's common in the environment, including water and soil, but it rarely causes infections. 

Majority of patients are over 65, and have had underlying health conditions. 

“It has not yet been determined whether the death associated with this outbreak were caused by the bacterial infection, the patients’ underlying health conditions, or both,” according to the statement. 

On Friday, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker announced the creation of nine new positions to help with the response and investigation of the outbreak, and prepare for other health risks like the Zika virus. 

Walker says, "We need to make sure we have the resources to address the risk, and do whatever we can to keep Wisconsinites safe."

Health officials are testing samples from several potential sources, including health care products, water sources and the environment. 

“Illinois is working closely with the CDC ,and Wisconsin and Michigan health officials to investigate this outbreak and develop ways to prevent additional infections,” IDPH Director Nirav Shah said in the statement. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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