Outbreaks in Wisconsin

Outbreaks and Investigations

Campus Outbreaks of Adenovirus
Updated 12/4/2019

  • An adult blowing her nose outside.The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) is working with local health departments, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and college and university health services directors in our state to track multiple outbreaks of respiratory illness caused by adenoviruses and to provide prevention information to students and staff.
  • People usually get sick with adenoviruses when they spend time with large groups of people (for example, at universities, hospitals, or schools). There are over 50 different types of adenoviruses. Usually adenoviruses cause mild illness, but sometimes they can be serious. The types of symptoms you have depend on which type of adenovirus you have and the part of the body that the virus is affecting.
    • Adenoviruses most commonly cause respiratory illness, which can range from cold and flu-like symptoms to bronchitis and pneumonia.
    • Some adenoviruses can cause diarrhea or pink eye, and in rare cases, inflammation of the bladder or severe neurological disease.
    • Anyone can get sick from an adenovirus. People with a weakened immune system, or those who have lung or heart problems are more likely to become very sick from an adenovirus.
    • Antibiotics do not work against adenoviruses.
  • There are a number of ways you can get an adenovirus:
  1. Breathing in adenovirus from the air: someone with the virus coughs or sneezes and the virus gets into the air. It is then breathed in by someone around them.
  2. Having direct contact with someone who has an adenovirus: touching or shaking hands with someone who has the virus on their skin and then touching your hands to your mouth, nose, or eyes.
  3. Touching surfaces with adenovirus: touching a surface (for example, a door knob, counter top, or phone) with adenovirus on it and then touching your hands to mouth, nose, or eyes. NOTE: Adenoviruses are able to survive on surfaces for a long time. It is important to wash toys, towels, and other surfaces often to make sure it doesn't spread to others.
  4. Having contact with poop: Some adenoviruses can spread through poop, for example, during diaper changing.
  5. Having contact with water that has adenovirus: Adenoviruses can also spread through water, such as swimming pools, but this is less common.

NOTE: Sometimes the virus can be shed (released from the body) for a long time after you recover from an adenovirus, especially if you have a weakened immune system. Usually you do not have any symptoms during this time of “virus shedding,” even though you can still spread adenovirus to others.

Outbreak of E. coli Infections Linked to Romaine Lettuce
Updated 12/4/2019

  • Romaine Lettuce on white backgroundThe Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) is working with local health departments, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate a multistate outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli infections (STEC).
    • As of December 4, 2019, the CDC reports that 102 people in 23 states are infected with the outbreak strain of STEC. There have been 58 people hospitalized and 10 cases of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). No deaths have been reported.
    • Wisconsin has 31 confirmed cases linked to this outbreak. Of these, 13 people have been hospitalized and 2 have developed HUS.
  • Epidemiologic, laboratory, and traceback evidence collected so far shows that romaine lettuce from the Salinas, California, growing region is a likely source of this outbreak.
    • In Maryland, ill people reported eating a Ready Pac Foods Bistro® Chicken Caesar Salad that contained romaine lettuce harvested from the Salinas, California growing region.
    • Ill people in other states have reported eating various brands and types of romaine lettuce.
    • Laboratory testing confirmed that the E. coli strain found in the Ready Pac Foods Bistro® Chicken Caesar Salad collected by Maryland is the same strain making people sick in this outbreak.
  • Based on new information, CDC is advising people not to eat, sell, or serve any romaine lettuce harvested from Salinas, California, until more information is available.
    • No common grower, supplier, distributor, or brand of romaine lettuce has been identified.
    • The investigation is ongoing to determine the source of contamination and if additional products are linked to illness.
  • Advice to Consumers, Retailers, and Restaurants:
    • Most romaine lettuce products are labeled with a harvest location showing where they were grown. This advice includes all types of romaine lettuce harvested from Salinas, California, such as whole heads of romaine, hearts of romaine, and packages of precut lettuce and salad mixes which contain romaine, including baby romaine, spring mix, and Caesar salad.
    • Restaurants and retailers should check the label on bags or boxes of romaine lettuce, or ask their suppliers about the source of their romaine lettuce.
    • Suppliers, distributors, and others in the supply chain should not ship or sell romaine harvested in Salinas, California.
  • If you have romaine lettuce at home:
    • If the packaging has “Salinas” on the label in any form (whether alone or with the name of another location), don’t eat it, and throw it away.
    • If it isn’t labeled with a growing region, don’t eat it, and throw it away.
    • If you don’t know if the lettuce is romaine or whether a salad mix contains romaine, don’t eat it, and throw it away.
    • Wash and sanitize drawers or shelves in refrigerators where romaine lettuce was stored. Follow these five steps to clean your refrigerator.
  • If you are buying romaine lettuce at a store:
    • If the packaging has “Salinas” on the label in any form (whether alone or with the name of another location), don’t buy it.
    • If it isn’t labeled with a growing region, don’t buy it.
    • If the packaging has “Salinas” on the label in any form (whether alone or with the name of another location), don’t sell or serve it.
    • If it isn’t labeled with a growing region, don’t sell or serve it.
  • About Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC):
    • People with STEC usually get sick with bloody diarrhea and stomach cramps 3-4 days after eating food contaminated with the germ. Contact your doctor if you think you ate romaine lettuce from the Salinas region of California and are having any symptoms.
    • Remember to wash your fresh fruits and vegetables before eating them, even if they have been “pre-washed.”
  • Additional information can be found on the following websites:

Hepatitis A Infection in a Mondovi Hansen's IGA Food Worker
Updated 11/21/2019

  • The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) is working with the Buffalo County Health Department, the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding a confirmed case of hepatitis A virus infection in a food handler.
    • A food handler with hepatitis A infection is concerning because of the potential for food contamination.
    • This individual worked at the Mondovi Hansen’s IGA store deli while they were able to spread Hepatitis A, from October 28 through November 17, 2019.
    • Health officials are advising people who shopped at the Mondovi Hansen’s IGA during October 28 and November 17, 2019 and ate produce or deli items to call their doctor. They should ask about their risk of exposure to hepatitis A virus and options for vaccination (if not already vaccinated).
    • There is no risk of exposure outside of these dates.
  • Symptoms of hepatitis A infection can include abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dark urine, clay-colored stool, fever, chills, and yellow skin and eyes (jaundice).
    • Hepatitis A symptoms occur between 15 and 50 days after exposure and can last for several weeks to months. Most people recover from hepatitis A on their own, but occasionally patients may need to be hospitalized. Hepatitis A is rarely fatal.
    • Antibiotics do not work against hepatitis A virus.
  • The best ways to prevent the spread of hepatitis A virus are:
    • Get the hepatitis A vaccine. A single shot of the hepatitis A vaccine can help prevent an infection if given within two weeks of being exposed to hepatitis A virus.
    • Always wash your hands with soap and water after using the bathroom or changing a diaper. Hand sanitizer is NOT effective against Hepatitis A virus.
    • Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water before and during food preparation and before eating food.
  • Additional information can be found at the following websites:

Hepatitis A Cases Linked to Blackberries from Fresh Thyme Farmers Market Stores
Updated 12/3/2019

  • Blackberries.The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) is working with local health departments, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate a multistate outbreak of hepatitis A that may be linked to fresh, non-organic blackberries. These blackberries were sold at Fresh Thyme Farmers Market stores during September 9 through September 30, 2019.
  • A single, common supplier of these berries has not been identified and no recall has been issued at this time.
    • Ill patients reported eating fresh, non-organic blackberries from Fresh Thyme Farmers Market stores in Indiana, Nebraska, and Wisconsin.
    • As of December 3, 2019, the CDC reports that 16 people in 6 states are infected with the outbreak strains of hepatitis A.
    • Wisconsin has 4 confirmed cases linked to this outbreak. Three cases in Wisconsin have been hospitalized.
    • Ill patients reported their illnesses starting between October 15 and November 5, 2019.
  • If you purchased any blackberries from Fresh Thyme between September 9 and September 30, 2019, do not eat them and throw them away. 
    • Check your freezer for these blackberries. If you froze them to eat later, do not eat them and throw them away.
    • If you ate any of these blackberries within the last two weeks and are not vaccinated against hepatitis A, contact your doctor or local health department to discuss vaccination options.
  • Symptoms of hepatitis A infection can include abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dark urine, clay-colored stool, fever, chills, and yellow skin and eyes (jaundice).
    • Hepatitis A symptoms occur between 15 and 50 days after exposure and can last for several weeks to months. Most people recover from hepatitis A on their own, but occasionally patients may need to be hospitalized. Hepatitis A is rarely fatal.
    • Antibiotics do not work against hepatitis A virus.
  • Additional information can be found on the following websites:

Severe Lung Disease Among People who Reported Vaping
Updated 12/5/2019

Wisconsin Case Counts
As of December 5, 2019
We plan to update case counts by 10 a.m. on Thursdays.

More Information about the lung disease and vaping investigation can be found on the Lung Disease and Vaping Investigation webpage.

Media requests should go to the DHS media or 608-266-1683.

  Number of Cases
Confirmed and Probable Cases* 97
Additional Patients Under Investigation 9

*We report confirmed and probable patient cases as one number because the two definitions are very similar, and this is the most accurate way to understand the number of people affected.

Salmonellosis Associated with Consuming Beef Tartare at Restore Public House in La Crosse
Updated 9/6/2019

  • Fresh, paper-thin sliced raw beefThe Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS), in collaboration with the La Crosse County Health Department, investigated an outbreak of salmonellosis associated with consuming beef tartare served at Restore Public House in La Crosse between July 10 and July 12, 2019.
  • 35 restaurant patrons were interviewed during the investigation. Seven confirmed and 10 probable (ill but not tested) cases were linked to this outbreak.
  • Restore Public House voluntarily removed the beef tartare dish from their menu once they were notified of the illnesses.
  • See the DHS salmonellosis fact sheet for more information on common symptoms of salmonellosis. If you have any symptoms of salmonellosis, please contact your doctor.
  • Consumption of raw or undercooked meat, poultry, or eggs can increase your risk of foodborne illness. See the DHS food safety webpage for more information on safe food practices.
  • Additional information can be found on the following websites:

Multistate Outbreak of Multidrug-Resistant Salmonella Infections Linked to Contact with Pig Ear Dog Treats
Final Update 10/30/2019

  • Dried pig ears. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) and local health departments worked with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate a multistate outbreak of salmonellosis linked to contact with pig ear dog treats.
    • As of October 30, 2019, the CDC reports 154 people in 34 states were infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella.
    • 35 people were hospitalized, with no deaths reported. Children younger than 5 years accounted for 19% of illnesses.
    • In Wisconsin, 4 laboratory-confirmed cases were linked to this outbreak.
  • CDC and FDA have dropped their warning to avoid buying or feeding any pig ear treats, except for treats that have been recalled. Consumers should not give recalled pig ears to their pets. Consumers should always wash their hands right after feeding any pig ear treats to their dogs.
    • Several companies recalled pig ear products because they might have been contaminated with Salmonella. No single supplier, distributor, or common brand of pig ear treats has been identified that could account for all the illnesses.
    • Details on pig ear products involved with the outbreak can be found on the FDA webpage.
  • See the DHS salmonellosis fact sheet for more information on common symptoms and treatment of salmonellosis. If you have any symptoms of salmonellosis, please contact your doctor.
  • Additional information can be found on the following websites:

Salmonellosis Linked to Consuming Foods from Outpost Natural Foods
Updated 8/27/2019

  • The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) and local health departments are investigating an outbreak of salmonellosis linked to consuming food from Outpost Natural Food locations.
  • On August 23, 2019, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) and the City of Milwaukee Health Department suspended meat and food processing at Outpost Natural Foods located in Milwaukee at 2826 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. due to insanitary conditions. DATCP has suspended the cooperative's meat establishment license and the City of Milwaukee has suspended the cooperative's retail food processing activities.
  • Insanitary conditions were discovered during a routine inspection and ready-to-eat products tested positive for Salmonella.
  • As of August 26, 2019, there are four people infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella found at Outpost Natural Foods; three were available for interview and each reported consuming food from one of the Outpost Natural Food locations.
  • Known patient onset dates range from March 20-May 6, 2019.
  • See the DHS salmonellosis fact sheet for more information on common symptoms and treatment of salmonellosis. If you have any symptoms of salmonellosis, please contact your doctor.

Multistate Outbreak of Salmonella Infections Linked to Contact with Backyard Poultry
Final Update 11/1/19

Salmonellosis Linked to Vegetable Trays
Final Update 7/11/19

  • Store bought vegetable trayThe Department of Health Services (DHS), the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP), Minnesota Department of Health and local health departments worked with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate a multi-state outbreak of salmonellosis linked to consumption of certain Del Monte vegetable trays.
  • All ill patients associated with this outbreak, four in Wisconsin and one in Minnesota, reported eating a Del Monte vegetable tray purchased from a Wisconsin or Minnesota Kwik Trip location before they became ill.
  • The Del Monte vegetable trays associated with the investigation contain broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and dill dip. It is not likely that the trays that made people sick are still on the market or still in people’s homes.
  • See the DHS salmonellosis fact sheet, P-42088 for more information on common symptoms and treatment of salmonellosis.
  • Additional information can be found on the following websites:

Legionnaires’ Disease Associated with Christmas Mountain Village Resort in Wisconsin Dells
Updated 6/4/19

  • Closeup of the front of a running shower headThe Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS), in collaboration with the Sauk County Health Department, and the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP), is working closely with Christmas Mountain Village on the investigation of three cases of Legionnaires’ disease associated with Christmas Mountain Village Resort in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin.
  • Legionnaires’ disease is a type of pneumonia caused by the bacteria Legionella, which can grow inside building water systems (pipes, hot water heaters, etc.).
    • Symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease can include cough, fever, chills, muscle aches, headache, and shortness of breath.
    • Legionnaires’ disease is more common in people aged 50 years and older, those who smoke, and among individuals who are at higher risk of infection, such as those with a chronic illness, respiratory disease, or a weakened immune system.
    • Legionnaires' disease is not normally spread from person to person.
    • People can get Legionnaires’ disease after breathing in small water droplets with Legionella. This CDC infographic outlines how Legionella bacteria is spread from water sources to people.
  • An investigation of the resort’s water system at Christmas Mountain Village Resort is ongoing.
    • Christmas Mountain Village Resort is working with a water management company on testing the resort’s water for Legionella and remediation (removal of Legionella from the water system).
    • The resort is continuing to notify guests at the time of reservation and check-in.
    • Point-of-use filters have been installed on showerheads and faucets in all units of the resort. These point-of-use filters are a recommended risk-reduction measure and will stay in place until testing and completing remediation (removal of Legionella) of all units at the resort is complete.
  • People who are planning to visit Christmas Mountain Village should evaluate their risk of infection or talk to their doctor before their visit and may wish to consider postponing their visit until after remediation is complete.
  • DHS and the Sauk County Health Department continue to monitor for new cases potentially associated with the resort. People who become ill with symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease within 14 days of their stay should seek medical attention and mention the information above to their doctor.
  • Additional information can be found on the following websites:

Bovine Tuberculosis (TB) Investigation
Updated 11/2/18

  • Cow milking facilityThe Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) is working with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP) to investigate bovine tuberculosis (TB) in a dairy herd located in Dane County. The Wisconsin TB Program is working with Public Health Madison and Dane County to complete a contact investigation on the farm and identify individuals who may need TB testing.
  • Precautions are being taken by DATCP and the farm to ensure the safety of both meat and milk. Consumers and the general public are not at risk of contracting TB infection from this herd. Food safety laws prevent meat from infected animals from entering the food chain and the pasteurization process destroys disease-causing organisms in milk.
  • People are not at risk if they have made only brief visits to the affected farm, have not consumed raw milk, or have not worked closely for extended periods of time with animals. Visiting the farm, living near the farm, or making deliveries to the farm does not pose a risk for becoming infected with bovine TB.
  • Additional information on bovine TB can be found on the following websites:

Salmonellosis Linked to Cut Melons
Final Update 6/19/19

Fresh melon cut up and ready to eat

  • The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) in collaboration with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) alerted Wisconsin consumers to a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Carrau infections linked to eating pre-cut melons sold by Caito Foods LLC.
  • One case was reported in Wisconsin and 137 people infected with the Salmonella strain were reported in nine other states.
  • On April 12, 2019, Caito Foods LLC recalled pre-cut watermelon, honeydew melon, cantaloupe, and pre-cut fruit medley products containing one of these melons supplied at the Caito Foods LLC facility in Indianapolis, Indiana.
  • Additional information can be found on the following websites:

Legionnaires' Disease Associated with the University of Wisconsin (UW) Hospital in Madison
Final Update 6/4/19

  • Closeup of the front of a running shower headThe Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS), in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and Public Health Madison and Dane County, is working closely with UW Health on the investigation of nosocomial Legionnaires’ disease associated with the University Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin.
  • On Nov. 28, 2018, DHS was notified by a UW Health Infection Preventionist of confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ disease among patients admitted to their hospital since Oct. 31, 2018.
  • As of Jan. 11, 2019, 14 cases of Legionnaires' disease have been identified at University Hospital. Three patients who had been hospitalized for other serious health conditions have died.
  • An environmental investigation at the hospital is ongoing.
  • Legionellosis in an infection caused by Legionella bacteria. There are two different types of legionellosis: Pontiac fever and Legionnaires' disease. Pontiac fever is a mild respiratory illness and Legionnaires' disease is a type of pneumonia.
    • Legionnaires' disease is not normally spread from person to person.
    • This CDC infographic outlines how Legionella bacteria is spread from water sources to people.
  • Additional information can be found on the following websites:

Salmonellosis Linked to Ground Turkey
Final Update 6/19/19

  • Raw ground turkey.The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) and local health departments investigated four cases of salmonellosis affecting Wisconsin residents with the same strain (DNA fingerprint) of Salmonella.
  • All four of the Wisconsin patients were linked to Butterball raw ground turkey. Testing of leftover raw ground turkey received by the patients was positive for the outbreak strain of Salmonella.
  • These items were shipped to institutional and retail locations nationwide. The affected ground turkey product may have been distributed through food pantries.
  • As a result of this outbreak, Butterball recalled 78,164 pounds of raw ground turkey products. A complete list of products included in the recall can be found in the U.S. Department of Agriculture Recall notice. The products subject to recall bear establishment number “EST. P-7345” inside the USDA mark of inspection.
  • Additional information can be found on the following websites:

 

To view previous outbreaks and investigations, please visit our Past Outbreaks in Wisconsin page.

Last Revised: December 5, 2019