December 22, 2014

Raw milk blamed for sickening dozens in Durand

Raw milk advocates serve samples during a 2010 state Capitol rally. (File Photo: WRN)

Raw milk advocates serve samples during a 2010 state Capitol rally. (File Photo: WRN)

Raw milk is confirmed as the reason dozens were sickened in west central Wisconsin.

State health officials say nearly 40 people fell ill after drinking the unpasteurized milk at a dinner in September for the Durand High School football team. That’s according to the state Health Services Department investigative report, obtained by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. It says 32 of the 38 people who got sick drank raw milk, and the other six may have done so. Ten of the 38 people were sick enough to be hospitalized. Among those sickened included 33 students and five coaches.

The most commonly reported signs and symptoms of illness among the case attendees were diarrhea, headache, fever, chills and sweats.

According to the report, “The results of the epidemiologic and laboratory investigations conducted by DPH, PCHD, DATCP, WVDL and WSLH determined that consumption of Farm A unpasteurized milk during the Thursday team dinner was associated with the occurrence of Campylobacter jejuni infections among football team-affiliated individuals.”

Officials said last week that the milk came from the Roland and Diana Reed farm of nearby Arkansaw in Pepin County. Diana told the Journal Sentinel she did not believe the farm’s raw milk was to blame for the illnesses.

No legal action has yet been taken against the farm.

Health experts say campylobacter infections can be prevented by proper food handling (e.g., prompt refrigeration of food at <40°F, disinfecting cutting boards and counters immediately after use), avoiding consumption of raw or undercooked meat, washing hands before and after food preparation and after handling animals (including pets), and avoiding consumption of unpasteurized milk.

Ricin cleanup under way in Oshkosh

Kyle Smith

Kyle Smith

Hazardous materials crews from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Wisconsin National Guard spent the day Wednesday decontaminating and testing an Oshkosh house, where suspended UW-Oshkosh student Kyle Smith, 21, allegedly made Ricin.

Doug Gieryn is the public health officer for Winnebago County. He says they cleaned several parts of the house where they knew there was Ricin, and tested several other areas, where traces may exist. Gieryn says they hope to wrap up their work today.

The FBI barred people from going into the house since Ricin was found there in late October. Smith was charged earlier this month in federal court with possession of ricin. If found guilty of the offense Smith faces up to 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, or both.

Thanks to Rick Schuh, WHBY

Walker does ‘Property Tax Relief Tour’

Governor Walker touts property tax relief. (PHOTO: Andrew Beckett)

Governor Walker touts property tax relief. (PHOTO: Andrew Beckett)

Governor Scott Walker touts lower property taxes during appearances in six major Wisconsin cities, including La Crosse, Eau Claire, Wausau, Madison, Milwaukee, and Green Bay. “Overall for a typical homeowner in Wisconsin property taxes are down.”

Walker says the typical homeowner will pay $141 less for property taxes than they did in 2010. Also, he explains, if the previous trend had continued, that same homeowner would be paying $385 more for their annual bill. The governor says cumulative savings exceed $800 for a typical homeowner over four years.

Walker says the state is working hand-in-hand with local and county governments. “Because for working families, for senior citizens, for small business owners, and farmers in this state, property taxes are overwhelmingly one of the biggest burdens they have in their own lives and their own businesses to deal with. We want to make sure we continue to provide property tax relief over the next four years.”

Walker stresses his progress as he prepares to put together the next two-year state budget.

In October of last year, Walker signed a bill providing $100 million in property tax relief for Wisconsin residents.

Minnesota boy dies in Wisconsin hunting accident

Logan Hinrichs (PHOTO: GoFundMe page)

Logan Hinrichs (PHOTO: GoFundMe page)

An eighth-grader from Red Wing Minnesota is dead following a hunting accident in western Wisconsin.

Pierce County authorities say Logan Hinrichs, 14, died from a gunshot wound over the weekend, while hunting in Maiden Rock.  The death remains under investigation.

Red Wing Superintendent Karsten Anderson alerted parents about the death Monday, after students and staffers were told. “The school district is implementing its crisis management plan to provide as much support as possible during this difficult time,” the statement says. “We are providing counselors and other support.”

There’s been no indication regarding the type of hunting involved in the mishap.

Wisconsin completed its November nine-day gun hunt a couple weeks ago with no shooting deaths reported.

Meanwhile, a webpage has been created for the family in order to collect funds to help cover funeral costs. According to the GoFundMe site, “ANY donation amount is appreciated.”  Slightly more than $7,000 has already been raised.

Knudson defends push to overhaul GAB

Representative Dean Knudson

Representative Dean Knudson

A recent audit highlighting many failings at the state Government Accountability Board has Democrats defending the agency and Republicans pointing out its flaws.

Representative Dean Knudson (R-Hudson) says the failings are worse than originally thought, saying there’s a “complete structural failure” at the state’s elections agency. “So what I mean is that the staff has run amock,” he says. “The GAB staff, on many occasions, has either ignored the law or they failed to follow their board or they withheld critical information from the actual judges on the actual governing board.”

Democrats are calling for a more cautious approach that gives the GAB time to fix the issues identified in the audit released last week, pointing out the GAB has seen a dramatic increase in its workload in recent years as a result of several recall elections, a statewide recount, and the ongoing battle over the state’s voter ID requirement.

Knudson doesn’t buy that. “I find it a week excuse to say that we weren’t able to follow the law because we didn’t have resources, or you never pointed out to your oversight board that that was the case or you never pointed out to the legislature that that was the case.

Knudson says it’s urgent that the GAB get a major overhaul. He wants a top-down review and he’s vowing to introduce legislation early next year to do just that.