Wisconsin launches online tool to report suspected food and waterborne illnesses

File photo water. (Photo by Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images) (Getty Images)

The Wisconsin Department of Health (WDH) launched a new resource on Thursday to make it easier for people to report suspected food or waterborne illnesses.

The online questionnaire allows people who suspect their illness might be from eating or drinking something contaminated to report symptoms, recent food items eaten, and places visited prior to becoming sick.

"By using this tool, Wisconsinites can help other people in their community from getting sick and prevent outbreaks," said DHS State Health Officer Paula Tran in a statement. "Ingesting contaminated food and water may cause just a little stomach upset for some, for others it can lead to hospitalization and be life-threatening. We're asking people — when you're feeling sick, report it quick."

The questionnaire can help officials identify a source of contamination and learn more about water and food-related illnesses, as officials believe they are underreported, given that those who are infected often feel better without seeking medical treatment.

The WDH explained this tool is especially important to help fight against norovirus, as cases typically spike in the winter. According to the CDC, norovirus is very contagious and easily spreads through contact with someone who has the virus, sharing food, or eating food they handle. Symptoms often include diarrhea, vomiting, nausea and stomach pain. 

Here are a few tips from the WDH to help avoid food poisoning:

  • Wash hands and surfaces touched with food often.
  • Keep raw meat, chicken, seafood, and eggs away from food that will not be cooked.
  • Cook food to the right temperature to kill germs that can cause illness.
  • Refrigerate food at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or colder within 1-2 hours of cooking.

The WDH advises those who feel sick should see a medical provider, and the questionnaire is not a substitute for health care. To learn more, click here