Lylah July 2021 2_edited.jpg

'No clear answer': Few clues in case of girl sickened by foreign bacteria as others test positive

USA TODAY
July 2021

A medical mystery emerging in three states took a concerning turn over the weekend as seven family members in Texas tested positive for potential exposure to a deadly type of bacteria that isn’t supposed to be found in the continental United States.

Disease detectives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have told the family of Lylah Baker, a 4-year-old girl hospitalized in Dallas, that blood tests show several of them have antibodies to the bacteria, called Burkholderia pseudomallei, that has sickened Lylah with devastating consequences.

None of Lylah's family members are currently sick. But Burkholderia pseudomallei bacteria are insidious and have the potential in rare cases to remain dormant in a person’s body for more than 20 years, before reactivating and causing a disease called melioidosis.

“That’s what we’re worried about,” Ashley Kennon, Lylah’s aunt, who is also a nurse, told me Monday as she was headed to get additional blood testing done for the CDC. Kennon said she is among the seven members who have tested positive in this close-knit family that lives in Bells, Texas, a small town about 60 miles northeast of Dallas.

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