Outbreaks in Wisconsin

Outbreaks and Investigations

Below is a list of selected outbreaks and investigations with wide impact in Wisconsin.

Outbreak of Salmonella Infections From Onions
Updated 11/18/2021

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) is working with local health departments, 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) to investigate a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Oranienburg infections linked to the consumption of onions.

  • As of November 16, 2021, CDC reports 892 people in 38 states and Puerto Rico have been infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella. One hundred eighty-three people have been hospitalized and no deaths have been reported.
  • Wisconsin has 30 laboratory-confirmed cases linked to this outbreak. At least eight Wisconsinites have been hospitalized as a result of infection with the outbreak strain.

DHS, CDC, and FDA are advising people not to eat, sell, or serve any fresh whole red, white, and yellow onions from Chihuahua, Mexico and distributed by ProSource Inc. and Keeler Family Farms. These onions:

  • Were sold to restaurants and grocery stores throughout the United States.
  • Were last imported on August 31, 2021.
  • May have stickers or packaging indicating the brand and the country (Mexico or MX) where they were grown.

Multiple companies have recalled onions in response to this outbreak. All recalled onions were supplied by ProSource Produce LLC and Keeler Family Farms and imported from the State of Chihuahua, Mexico, between July 1, 2021, and August 31, 2021.

FDA’s website has a table with information about each company’s recall.

These products have a long shelf-life (up to three months), and may still be in people’s homes. Therefore, DHS and CDC urge people to take the following steps:

  • Check your home for any of the recalled onions and throw them away.
  • Throw any leftover onion(s) away, even if some has been eaten and no one has gotten sick.
  • If you can’t tell where the onions are from, don’t buy or eat them.
  • Wash surfaces and containers these onions may have touched using hot soapy water or a dishwasher.

This investigation is ongoing, and other onions and suppliers may be linked to this outbreak. Wisconsin DHS will provide updates as information becomes available.

See the DHS salmonellosis webpage for more information on the common symptoms and treatment of salmonellosis. If you think you may have these symptoms, DHS and CDC encourage you to:

  • Talk to your health care provider.
  • Write down what you ate in the week before you started to get sick.
  • Report your illness to your local health department.
  • Assist public health investigators by answering questions about your illness.

Additional information can be found on the following websites:

Measles
Updated 10/8/2021

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) and the Monroe County Health Department are working with federal partners at Fort McCoy to investigate an outbreak of measles among people who recently traveled from Afghanistan during the United States government’s emergency evacuation efforts. To date, all cases have been identified among people currently based at Fort McCoy. At the time of this update, there is no evidence of community spread in Wisconsin beyond Fort McCoy.

  • As of October 14, 2021, a total of 22 cases of measles has been confirmed.
  • People diagnosed with measles at Fort McCoy have ranged in age from 4 months to 26 years old and 14 (64%) have required treatment at area hospitals.
  • This information will be updated every Thursday at 2 p.m.

Most Wisconsinites are vaccinated against measles as children, which provides lifetime immunity. The risk of measles transmission in the surrounding communities is considered to be low at this time. However, people who have never been vaccinated and are exposed to a person with measles can spread the virus to others in the community, leading to outbreaks. The best way to prevent measles is to get vaccinated with the Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) vaccine. Two doses of MMR vaccine are about 97% effective at preventing measles; one dose is about 93% effective. Wisconsin residents can check their vaccination status in the Wisconsin Immunization Registry (WIR).

Local health departments can provide MMR vaccine to uninsured adults through the Vaccines for Adults program, based on vaccine ability and capacity. The Wisconsin Vaccines for Children Program covers the cost of vaccines for eligible children.

In order to prevent further spread to Fort McCoy and surrounding communities, federal agencies coordinating the response offered vaccination against measles and other communicable disease to all Afghan evacuees in mid-September. Staff or visitors who have been to Fort McCoy and had contact with evacuees or the living areas of evacuees may be at increased risk for measles. DHS and the Monroe County Health Department are working closely with federal partners on base to offer vaccination to these higher risk groups in order to prevent spread.

Measles is a highly contagious, serious disease caused by a virus. The virus can be spread through the air and through direct contact with persons who are infected. Unvaccinated young children and other non-immune adults are at highest risk of serious disease from measles. Symptoms of measles generally start 10-12 days after exposure to the virus and include:

  • Runny nose
  • High fever (may be greater than 104 F)
  • Tiredness
  • Cough
  • Red, watery eyes, or conjunctivitis (“pink eye”)
  • A red rash with raised bumps that starts at the hairline and moves to the arms and legs three to five days after symptoms begin

For a full description of measles, see the DHS measles fact sheet and the CDC measles webpage

In general, people born before 1957 are considered immune. All other adults without laboratory evidence of immunity should have at least one dose of measles-containing vaccine, and children should have two doses. See the DHS measles webpage for more information about measles and recommended vaccination schedules.

    Multistate Outbreak of Salmonella Infections Linked to Contact with Backyard Poultry
    Updated 9/3/2021

    The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) and local health departments are working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to investigate multiple outbreaks of Salmonella infections linked to contact with live backyard poultry.

    • As of August 31, 2021, the CDC reports that 863 people, in 47 states and the District of Columbia, were infected with one of the outbreak strains of Salmonella. Children younger than 5 years accounted for 26% of the illnesses nationally.
    • In Wisconsin since March 2021, 51 people have been infected with one of the outbreak strains of Salmonella.
    • Among Wisconsinites with infections linked to the national outbreak:
      • Cases reside in 33 counties across the state.
      • 25% (n=13) of infections have resulted in hospitalization. No deaths have been reported.
      • Infections have occurred in people ranging from 0 to 77 years of age, with the average age of 34 years. Children less than 5 years of age account for 25% of infections in Wisconsin, similar to the percentage seen nationally (26%).

    Outbreaks of Salmonella infections linked to contact with backyard poultry occur every year in the U.S., including in Wisconsin residents. Many of these infections are preventable.

    • Poultry, including healthy and clean backyard poultry, can have Salmonella germs in their poop and on their bodies (feathers, feet, and beaks). The germs can easily spread to their cages, coops, eggs, and equipment used to care for them. People can get sick from Salmonella if they touch the birds or anything in their environment and then touch their mouth or food before washing their hands. 
    • Children younger than 5 years are more likely to get sick with Salmonella because their immune systems are still developing. They also are more likely to put their fingers or other items with germs into their mouths. 

    Quick tips for what backyard owners should do (See CDC's webpage for more details)

    • Always wash your hands after touching backyard poultry, their eggs, or anything within the areas in which they live or roam.
    • Don’t kiss or snuggle backyard poultry, and don’t eat or drink around them. 
    • Supervise kids around flocks and don’t let children younger than 5 years touch chicks, ducklings, or other backyard poultry. 
    • Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of these severe symptoms:
      • Diarrhea and a fever higher than 102°F
      • Diarrhea for more than 3 days that is not improving
      • Bloody stools
      • Prolonged vomiting that prevents you from keeping liquids down
      • Signs of dehydration, such as:
        • Making very little urine
        • Dry mouth and throat
        • Dizziness when standing up

    For more information about how to reduce your risk of getting sick:

    More information about backyard poultry can be found on the DHS Backyard Poultry webpage.

    COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019)

    Wisconsin Investigation Details
    We plan to update our data daily by 2 p.m.

    We are closely monitoring COVID-19 with officials at local, state, and federal levels.

    COVID-19 continues to be very contagious. We should continue to limit our interactions with others as much as possible to protect ourselves, our communities, and the capacity of our health care system.

    You are not alone. We are in this together. Do not hesitate to ask for help.

    Latest news from Gov. Evers:

    Media briefings, scheduled as needed:

    Multistate Outbreak of Salmonella Infections Linked to Peaches
    Updated 8/28/2020

    The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) is working with local health departments, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Enteritidis infections linked to peaches.

    • As of August 27, 2020, CDC reports 78 people in 12 states are infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Enteritidis. Twenty-three people have been hospitalized and no deaths have been reported.
    • Wisconsin has five laboratory-confirmed cases linked to this outbreak. One has been hospitalized.

    Epidemiologic evidence indicates that peaches are a likely source of this outbreak.

    • On August 25, 2020, Russ Davis Wholesale recalled peach salsa and gift baskets made with recalled Prima Wawona peaches. Recalled peach salsa was sold under 3 brand names and labeled as “Perfectly Peach Salsa.”
    • On August 22, 2020, Prima Wawona recalled all its bulk/loose peaches distributed and sold from June 1 through August 3.
    • On August 21, 2020, Wawona Packing Company LLC recalled bagged peaches that were sold under several brand names at a variety of stores in multiple states. Recalled bagged peaches were distributed and sold from June 1 through August 19.
    • On August 19, 2020, Target recalled multiple varieties of fresh peaches and removed them from their U.S. stores.
    • ALDI voluntarily recalled peaches and removed them from their store shelves in multiple states on August 19, 2020.
    • This investigation is ongoing to determine the source of contamination and to identify other retailers that might have sold contaminated peaches.

    DHS, CDC, and FDA are advising people not to eat, serve, or sell any recalled peaches packed or supplied by Wawona Packing Company, LLC.

    • The recalled peaches were sold at different stores under various brand names. Peaches were sold in bags and individually.
    • Recalled peaches sold in bags include the following brand names and product codes:
      • Wawona Peaches – 033383322001
      • Wawona Organic Peaches – 849315000400
      • Prima® Peaches – 766342325903
      • Organic Marketside Peaches – 849315000400
      • Kroger Peaches – 011110181749
      • Wegmans Peaches – 077890490488
    • Recalled bulk/loose peaches were sold in grocery stores in a variety of formats, typically bins where consumers selected their own fruit and may have the following stickers with PLU numbers on them: 4037, 4038, 4044, 4401, 94037, 94038, 94044, 94401.
    • The items were also available for purchase through Instacart, a grocery delivery service.
    • If you have any of the recalled peaches throw the peaches away, even if some of them were eaten and no one has gotten sick.

    This investigation is ongoing. Wisconsin DHS will continue to provide updates as information becomes available.

    See our salmonellosis page 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:

    Multistate Outbreak of Salmonella Infections Linked to Onions
    Updated 8/7/2020

    The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) and local health departments are working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Newport infections linked to the consumption of onions.

    • As of August 7, 2020, CDC reports that 640 people in 43 states have been infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Newport. There have been 85 people hospitalized and no deaths.
    • Wisconsin has seven laboratory-confirmed cases linked to this outbreak. Two have been hospitalized.

    DHS, CDC, and FDA are advising people not to eat, sell, or serve any onions from Thomson International, Inc., or food made with these onions. Recalled onion types include red, white, yellow, and sweet varieties. Other companies have also issued recalls of foods, like chicken salads, made with recalled onions. If you cannot tell where your onions are from, do not eat, sell, or serve them. Throw them away.

    • On August 1, 2020, Thomson International, Inc., recalled red, yellow, white and sweet yellow onions because they may be contaminated with Salmonella.
    • Recalled onions were distributed to retail stores, restaurants, and wholesalers in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
    • Onions were distributed in bulk cartons and mesh sacks ranging from 2 to 50 pounds under these brand names: Thomson Premium, TLC Thomson International, Tender Loving Care, El Competitor, Hartley’s Best, Onions 52, Majestic, Imperial Fresh, Kroger, Utah Onions, and Food Lion.
    • See the recall notice to check for universal product codes (UPC) and pictures of the products.
    • August 1, 2020, Giant Eagle recalled onions and prepared foods made with recalled onions sold in stores across Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Indiana, and Maryland.
    • On August 1, 2020, Publix recalled red onions sold in bulk at stores in Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.
    • On August 5, 2020, the United States of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA-FSIS) issued a public health alert for products made with recalled onions. Check the alert for details.
    • On August 6, 2020, Taylor Farms issued a recall of foods that were made from recalled onions. Check the posting for details.
    • Wash and sanitize any surfaces that may have come in contact with onions or their packaging, such as countertops, refrigerator drawers, knives, and cutting boards.

    Epidemiologic and trackback information shows that red onions are a likely source of this outbreak.

    • Thomson International, Inc., of Bakersfield, CA, has been identified as a likely source of potentially contaminated red onions.
    • Additional traceback is ongoing to determine if other onions are linked to the outbreak.

    This investigation is ongoing and Wisconsin DHS will provide updates when they are available.

    See our salmonellosis page for information about common symptoms and treatment of Salmonella infection. If you have any symptoms of salmonellosis, see your doctor.

    Additional information can be found on the following websites:

    Multistate Outbreak of Cyclospora Infections Linked to Bagged Salad Mix
    Updated 7/9/2020

    The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS), the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP), and local health departments continue to work with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate a multistate outbreak of cyclosporiasis infections linked to the consumption of bagged salad mix containing iceberg lettuce, carrots, and red cabbage produced by Fresh Express.

    As of July 24, 2020, a total of 641 people with laboratory-confirmed Cyclospora infections associated with this outbreak have been reported from 11 states. 37 people have been hospitalized and no deaths have been reported.

    Wisconsin has 36 confirmed cases linked to this outbreak. None have been hospitalized.

    Epidemiologic and trackback evidence indicates that bagged salad mix containing iceberg lettuce, carrots, and red cabbage produced by Fresh Express is a likely source of this outbreak.

    • The Public Health Agency of Canada is investigating an outbreak of Cyclospora infections occurring in 3 Canadian provinces. Exposure to certain Fresh Express salad products containing iceberg, red cabbage, and carrots is the likely source of their outbreak.
    • On June 27, 2020, Fresh Express recalled products containing either iceberg lettuce, red cabbage, or carrots and displaying the product code Z178 or a lower number.
    • On June 25, 2020, Fresh Express recalled 12- and 24-ounce bagged Walmart Marketside Classic Iceberg Salad, sold in Walmart stores.
    • On June 22, 2020, ALDI recalled 12-ounce bagged Little Salad Bar Garden Salad produced by Fresh Express.
    • On June 20, 2020, Hy-Vee issued a recall for Hy-Vee brand 12-ounce bagged Garden Salad produced by Fresh Express.
    • Evidence shows that Jewel-Osco brand Signature Farms Brand Garden Salad may be another source of this outbreak, but this product was not distributed to stores in Wisconsin. Jewel-Osco, in cooperation with Fresh Express, has recalled this product due to the association with illnesses in other Midwestern states.

    DHS, the CDC, and FDA are advising people not to eat, sell, or serve any products that have been recalled for potential Cyclospora contamination.

    The recalled products have use-by dates through July 14, 2020 and may still be in people’s homes. A full list can be found here.

    • Check your home for any of these salad products. Throw any remaining salad away, even if some of it has been eaten and no one has gotten sick.
    • If you live in Wisconsin and don’t know whether the bagged garden salad blend you have in your home is one of these salad products, don’t eat it and throw it away.

    This investigation is ongoing and additional retailers and products may be impacted by this outbreak. Wisconsin DHS will continue to provide updates as information becomes available.

    See our cyclosporiasis fact sheet for more information on common symptoms and treatment of cyclosporiasis. If you have any symptoms of cyclosporiasis, please contact your doctor.

    Additional information can be found on the following websites:

    E-cigarette or Vaping Associated Lung Injury (EVALI)
    Updated 1/11/2021

    Wisconsin Case Counts
    As of January 11, 2021

    More information about the e-cigarette or vaping associated lung injury can be found on the Vaping and Lung Injury Investigation webpage.

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

    Case Status Number of Cases
    Confirmed and Probable Cases* 119

    *Reporting the number of confirmed and probable cases of EVALI in Wisconsin during July 2019-current date.

     

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

    Last Revised: November 18, 2021

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