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Campus Outbreaks of Adenovirus

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) is working with local health departments, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and college and university health services directors in our state to track multiple outbreaks of respiratory illness caused by adenoviruses and to provide prevention information to students and staff.

People usually get sick with adenoviruses when they spend time with large groups of people (for example, at universities, hospitals, or schools). There are over 50 different types of adenoviruses. Usually adenoviruses cause mild illness, but sometimes they can be serious. The types of symptoms you have depend on which type of adenovirus you have and the part of the body that the virus is affecting.

  • Adenoviruses most commonly cause respiratory illness, which can range from cold and flu-like symptoms to bronchitis and pneumonia.
  • Some adenoviruses can cause diarrhea or pink eye, and in rare cases, inflammation of the bladder or severe neurological disease.
  • Anyone can get sick from an adenovirus. People with a weakened immune system, or those who have lung or heart problems are more likely to become very sick from an adenovirus.
  • Antibiotics do not work against adenoviruses.

There are a number of ways you can get an adenovirus:

  1. Breathing in adenovirus from the air: someone with the virus coughs or sneezes and the virus gets into the air. It is then breathed in by someone around them.
  2. Having direct contact with someone who has an adenovirus: touching or shaking hands with someone who has the virus on their skin and then touching your hands to your mouth, nose, or eyes.
  3. Touching surfaces with adenovirus: touching a surface (for example, a door knob, counter top, or phone) with adenovirus on it and then touching your hands to mouth, nose, or eyes. NOTE: Adenoviruses are able to survive on surfaces for a long time. It is important to wash toys, towels, and other surfaces often to make sure it doesn't spread to others.
  4. Having contact with poop: Some adenoviruses can spread through poop, for example, during diaper changing.
  5. Having contact with water that has adenovirus: Adenoviruses can also spread through water, such as swimming pools, but this is less common.

Sometimes the virus can be shed (released from the body) for a long time after you recover from an adenovirus, especially if you have a weakened immune system. Usually you do not have any symptoms during this time of “virus shedding,” even though you can still spread adenovirus to others.

The best ways to prevent the spread of adenoviruses are to:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Do not have close contact with people who are sick.

Additional information can be found at the following websites:

Tips to Keep your Family Safe and Healthy this Holiday Season

More than 46 million turkeys are eaten on Thanksgiving Day. Combine the turkey with a number of side dishes and desserts, and it is by far the largest and most stressful meal many people make all year.  This can leave room for mistakes that can make family and guests sick.

Turkey, other meat and poultry may contain bacteria, such as Salmonella and Campylobacter, which can lead to serious foodborne illness. Properly handle and cook the turkey and other dishes to make sure your family has a safe and healthy holiday season.   

Follow these five steps:

1Wash your hands, but not your poultry.  The easiest way to stop the spread of bacteria is to wash your hands before cooking. 

2. Do not wash the turkey, chicken, or goose.  This is the easiest way to spread bacteria all over the kitchen.  Studies show that washing meat or poultry can splash bacteria around your kitchen by up to 3 feet. This bacteria can go on towels, countertops, and other food. Washing doesn’t get rid of bacteria from the bird. Cooking the meat to the correct inner temperature will kill bacteria. 

3.  For ideal safety, do not stuff the turkey. Even if the turkey is cooked to the correct inner temperature, the stuffing inside may not have reached a temperature high enough to kill the bacteria. It is best to cook the stuffing in a separate dish.

4. Take the temperature of the bird.  The only way to make sure your turkey is cooked to the correct inner temperature is to use a food thermometer. Take the bird’s temperature in three areas: the thickest part of the breast, the innermost part of the wing and the innermost part of the thigh, to make sure all three areas are at 165ºF.  Cook the turkey as long as needed until ALL three areas reach 165ºF.

5.  Follow the two-hour rule.  Do not leave foods that spoil easily on the table or countertops for more than two hours. After two hours, food falls into temperatures between 40-140ºF.  This is called the Danger Zone.  This is where bacteria can quickly grow.  If that food is then eaten, people could get sick. Cut turkey into smaller slices and refrigerate along with other foods, such as potatoes, gravy and vegetables. Leftovers should stay safe in the refrigerator for four days.

If you have questions about your Thanksgiving dinner, call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) to talk to a food safety expert. You can also visit to learn more about how to safely pick, thaw, and prepare a turkey.


Winter Weather is Here!

Some cold weather dangers are easier to see than others.  Sometimes, you might not even think it's very cold, but a cold-related illness or injury can still harm you.  So when you are outside this winter, be prepared and be aware.


One of the biggest dangers from working in the cold can be the hardest to recognize. Hypothermia happens when your body temperature drops below 95° F. Mild hypothermia can make you feel confused. Being too cold can also cloud your judgment. Early symptoms (or signs) of hypothermia include:

  • Shivering,
  • Feeling tired,
  • Loss of coordination, and
  • Confusion.

As your body loses more heat, the shivering will stop, your skin may turn blue, the pupils of your eye will dilate, your pulse and breathing will slow, and you will lose consciousness.


Many parts of the body are prone to frostbite, including your fingers, toes, nose, and ears. Frostbite happens when a part of the body freezes, damaging the tissue. If the tissue can't be saved, the body part may need to be removed to prevent even worse health problems. Warning signs of frostbite include:

  • Numbness or tingling,
  • Stinging, or pain on or near the affected body part.

If the temperature and or the wind shield are at dangerous levels, do not go outside if you do not have to. Avoid hyperthermia and frostbite by being aware of the weather and wear the right clothing for the weather, such as:

  • Several layers of loose clothing,
  • Warm gloves and hats
  • Waterproof and Insulated shoes.

The colder it is, the faster hypothermia and frostbite can set in and so you shouldn't stay in the cold any longer than you needed.

Here is more information: Cold Weather Stress Fact Sheet

Other tips to help you prepare for the winter months, such as winterizing your home, car safety and emergencies, can be found here:  Be Prepared to Stay Safe and Healthy in Winter 


It's That Time of the Year!

Flu and Pneumonia Vaccines

This year the cost for the seasonal flu shots will be just $25.00. We bill Medicare Part B, Medicaid and some Medicare replacements. Please call the Health Department at 715-479-3656 for flu shot availability.  

Everyone 6 months of age and older should get vaccinated against the flu. People at high risk of serious flu complications include young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease and people 65 years and older.

Please take the following precautions to protect your health: Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.

1) Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.

2)  Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs can spread this way.

3)  Try to avoid close contact with sick people.

4)  Stay home if you are sick until at least 24 hours after you no longer have a fever (100°F or 37.8°C) or signs of a fever (without the use of a fever-reducing medicine).

5)  Follow public health advice regarding school closures, avoiding crowds and other social distancing measures.

Pneumonia shots are available for individuals 65 years of age and older. There are some restrictions.  Please feel free to contact the Vilas County Public Health Department at 715-479-3656 with any questions regarding the flu shot clinics.


Indoor Mold

The Key to Mold is Moisture Control

Tiny mold spores are all around us, both indoors and outdoors. Mold spores travel easily through the air and begin to grow indoors when moisture is present. There is no practical way to eliminate all mold and mold spores from the indoors, so the best way to control mold growth is to control indoor moisture. When indoor conditions are just right, mold spores can grow and become a problem. By taking important steps, you can prevent and control mold growth inside your home.

Mold spores need 3 things to grow:

  1. Moisture
  2. A nutrient source (i.e., wood, paper, or other materials)
  3. The right temperature

Of these three conditions, the most important to control is moisture. Indoor mold growth is really a sign that moisture is present. If indoor moisture is controlled, mold will not grow.

Fixing the Mold Problem

Since moisture is essential for mold growth, do all you can to quickly identify and fix any source causing too much indoor moisture. Common household problems that lead to indoor moisture issues include:

  • Roof leaks.
  • Leaking pipes or plumbing fixtures.
  • Condensation due to high indoor humidity.
  • Indoor flooding.

After all moisture and water problems have been fixed, clean the moldy area and keep the area dry.

If you cannot identify the moisture source, or if you are dealing with a large mold and water problem, consider a professional home inspection. Visit our Wisconsin Mold Contractor's page for a listing of indoor air consultants and mold remediation contractors.

Preventing Mold Growth

Important actions can be taken to prevent indoor mold from becoming a problem:

  • Keep indoor spaces well ventilated and dry. Air conditioners and dehumidifiers can help.
  • Keep indoor humidity levels below 50%.
  • Clean bathrooms often and keep surfaces dry. Run the bathroom ventilation fan during and after showers.
  • Promptly fix water leaks.
  • Clean up and dry your home fully and quickly (within 24-48 hours) after any flooding event.

Testing for Mold

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services does not recommend testing for mold because:

  • Federal standards or limits for airborne mold concentrations or mold spores do not exist.
  • Mold spores are everywhere around us, indoors and outdoors.
  • Mold testing can be expensive.

If you see or smell mold, it is present. In any situation, your approach should be to find the moisture source, fix it, and clean what you can.

Fact Sheets:

For more information, visit:

Tips for Food Safety in a Power Outage: