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Wisconsin salmonella case count rises to 13

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WISCONSIN -- Health officials are investigating a salmonella outbreak that has caused over 100 illnesses in 19 states, including in Wisconsin. Officials say the source of the outbreak has not been identified at this time, and the investigation is ongoing.

Officials say 13 adults in Wisconsin have had confirmed cases of salmonella, relating to the national outbreak strain. Five of the individuals were in Milwaukee County, seven in Waukesha County and one in Washington County as of Tuesday, April 10th.

Although there is no confirmed cause of the salmonella outbreak at this time, there is a common theme - sushi.

Lydia Chicoine owns Ichiban, a Japanese restaurant on Milwaukee's east side. Chicoine said she believes sushi gets a bad rap, and hopes the salmonella outbreak doesn't hurt her business. "I eat more fish than anyone I know. I literally eat plates of raw fish all week long. I think most people, if they get any kind of sickness, and they've eaten sushi recently, they blame it on that, just because it's often raw fish," Chicoine said.

The Centers for Disease Control reports about 70 percent of the sick people interviewed said they had eaten sushi within the last week. Local and national officials are trying to figure out which types of fish may be to blame. "Our cases would follow the same pattern we see nationally, which would be the spicy tuna, which came up more than other types of sushi," Angie Hagy with the Milwaukee Health Department said.

Both officials and Chicoine said it's hard to pinpoint even what kind of tuna could be contaminated. "Tuna can come in a variety of different grades, and it can come frozen. There's bluefin tuna, albacore tuna, escolar," Chicoine said.

Although officials have yet to find a contaminated food source, they are asking sushi lovers to be careful. "At this point, they should err on the side of caution. Sushi is a high-risk food at any time because it's not cooked," Hagy said.

Health officials will continue to monitor for additional cases and have been supporting the national investigation by interviewing patients regarding their food history and other exposures. State health officials advise consumers to contact their doctor if they believe they became ill from eating potentially contaminated food. Because there are cases from Texas to Connecticut, health officials believe it's an issue with a food supplier.

Consumption of food contaminated with Salmonella can cause salmonellosis, which typically lasts 4 to 7 days. Most people infected with salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps within 8 to 72 hours. Some individuals may experience vomiting.

For more information, visit the Wisconsin Health Department website by CLICKING HERE.

For more information on the national outbreak, CLICK HERE.