Mysterious Bacteria Claims Another Life in the Midwest

CBS NEWS — A bacterial infection called Elizabethkingia has already claimed at least 20 lives in Wisconsin and Michigan. Now, the first case has been confirmed in Illinois and has taken another life, reports CBS Chicago.

Kimberly Cencula, 52, from Lake Villa, Illinois, is the first person in that state to contract the mysterious bacteria and die from it. It’s unknown right now exactly how she was infected with Elizabethkingia.

“It’s a bacteria that exists normally in the environment,” said Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health. “It exists in water and soil. It’s everywhere around us.”

Shah says the bacteria is relatively new.

Elizabethkingia infections first appeared in Wisconsin last fall. There have been 57 confirmed cases of illness there and 19 deaths, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. There has also been one confirmed case and death in Michigan.

“It is an area of intense scientific investigation right now,” Shah said. “We are working very closely with the Wisconsin Department of Health.”

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