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AP reveals research into a rare-but-severe infection carried by family pets

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It could have been a routine follow-up story, but Milwaukee video journalist Carrie Antlfinger found a way to tell that story and break news.

Very little was known last year when Greg Manteufel, a perfectly healthy Wisconsin man, developed a severe infection attributed to capnocytophaga, a bacterium commonly found in the saliva of cats and dogs. Manteufel had contracted a blood infection that led to more than 20 surgeries and the loss of his limbs, a story that was widely reported in 2018.

While reporting on Manteufel’s effort to reclaim his life,Antlfinger discovered an angle that had not been pursued by other outlets: Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston,connected to Harvard Medical School,as well as other institutions, had been investigating cases like his. They identified a genetic variant that appears to be a risk factor making otherwise healthy people susceptible to the disease.

As the Mantuefels fended off local TV stations,Antlfinger kept working on her story. She managed to get Greg Manteufel to provide her with access to his rehabilitation appointments,which she attended when she wasn’t tied up with other assignments. Antlfinger shot video, photos and wrote the story that was edited by New York’s Jerry Schwartz. She also coordinated with Boston video journalist Rodrique Ngowi to obtain footage of researchers in Boston.

The package was well-received by members and the public. A social edit of the story was viewed more than 52,000 times,and the text story was used widely by members,garnering more than 185,000 page views online.

For a compelling all-formats story of recovery that also broke medical news, Antlfinger receives this week’s Best of the States award.

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