This Week's Herman Trend Alert

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  The Herman Trend Alert

March 30, 2016

Mysterious Illness in Wisconsin

People are dying in the United States, in Wisconsin and Michigan, and researchers are hard-pressed to explain why. Even the Center for Disease Control (CDC) is mystified by this life-threatening, blood-borne illness, characterized by fever, shortness of breath, chills, or skin infection. It has already killed 15 people in Wisconsin and one in Michigan.

Elizabethkingia is killing people in Wisconsin
Named after the late American microbiologist Elizabeth O. King, the baffling aspect of this bug is that it is common to many environments and never caused a problem before. Now, it is considered life-threatening and could be spreading to Michigan. But no one knows where the source of this virulent strain.

Resistant to many antibiotics
As has been the case for other superbugs, Elizabethkingia is resistant to many antibiotics. This effectiveness makes it potentially deadly for immune-compromised patients; to make matters worse, health officials have yet to locate the origin of this latest outbreak. Most susceptible seem to be patients with serious underlying illnesses who are over the age of 65.

Not limited to the United States
Reported in the CDC's emerging diseases journal this January was a report about a nearly two-year long Elizabethkingia outbreak in a London, England. There they found the culprits were contaminated water taps in the hospital sinks of a critical care unit. However, in Wisconsin the tap water was not at fault.

Researchers have looked everywhere
Working with the CDC, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) has been looking for the perplexing bacteria in water sources, health-care facilities, and environmental sources. So far, they have not found a source for the bacteria.

It's probably not the water
Particularly disturbing to the CDC is the size of the outbreak and the total number of fatalities--- large and dispersed across a wide area. In spite of the fact that all of the cases identified so far have the same genetic footprint, "the affected patients were using different water supplies and some were using wells". Thus Wisconsin DHS is "reasonably certain groundwater is not the source".

Affluence supports the over-use of antibiotics and . . .
It is not surprising to us that these outbreaks occurred in developed countries where widespread use of antibiotics is more prevalent. Expect more antibiotic-resistant superbugs to attack humans and livestock. One of the most overlooked solutions is prevention with probiotics like Lactobacillus Reuteri from Biogaia Biologics in Sweden. Western countries were way too slow in waking up to the stark realities. We applaud the healthcare providers who are refraining from prescribing antibiotics, until they have to. There will be many more superbugs emerging before we are able to get this situation under control.

Special thanks to The Daily Beast for raising our consciousness to this emerging superbug.

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