An official with the state’s Department of Health Services says the general public need not fear getting a rare bloodstream infection. Stephanie Smiley is the director of the bureau of communicable diseases. She says the Elizabethkingia bacteria was named after the scientist who discovered it in the 1950s. She says what makes the recent outbreak so unusual is it rarely affects human beings. She says primarily it affects those over the age of 65 with compromised immune systems or serious underlying health conditions. Forty-four people in southern Wisconsin contracted it. One person in Fond du Lac County got it, but was treated at St. Agnes Hospital. Smiley says it is treatable. There have been 18 deaths, but officials aren’t sure if it was due to the bacteria or the patients other serious health conditions.
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