Salmonella outbreak reaches 13 in southeast Wisconsin

Salmonella outbreak reaches 13 in southeast Wisconsin

By WTMJ News Team. CREATED Apr 9, 2012 - UPDATED: Apr 10, 2012

MILWAUKEE- On Tuesday, the health department announced that 13 people in southeast Wisconsin have been infected with salmonella.  Of those cases, there are five in Milwaukee County, seven in Waukesha County and one in Washington County.

It's still not certain what is making everyone sick, but investigators are focusing on spicy tuna rolls as the culprit.  "We're not implicating sushi or sushimi, it rose as a product of interest, we did some sampling. They all came back negative, but they have not been removed from the list of suspects," said Paul Biedrzycki, Director of Disease Control and Environmental Health, City of Milwaukee Health Department.

News of a salmonella outbreak doesn't sit well for restaurateurs like Fujiko Yamaguchi.

Yamauchi found out about the outbreak a few weeks ago.  "The health department called me," said Fujiko Yamaguchi, owner of Izumi's restaurant.  "They wanted to have a copy of invoices all linked to tuna."

The fish, and spicy tuna rolls are the prime suspects right now.  Longtime sushi chef Tatsuya Goto told TODAY'S TMJ4 he's been taking precaution -- washing hands, watching food temperature and cutting whole tuna himself.  "I'm always checking," said Goto. 

The spike in statistics means workers at restaurants are keeping a close eye on quality. Though they admit there are risks any time you eat raw food.  "We do our best. But we're not perfect. Sometimes, it might happen," asserted Fujiko Yamaguchi.

Despite the risks, customers keep coming back for more.

Workers at restaurants like Izumi also rotate through their stock quickly, getting multiple shipments of fresh fish every week -- another way to attempt to curb the problem.

The health department stated that people know about the outbreak; they expect more people to contact their office about being sick.