According to press reports, the state and county health departments are investigating a possible food-borne illness outbreak at the Hillcrest on Lake Wisconsin Restaurant in Merrimac.

Cynthia Bodendein, a Sauk County health officer, said the state had inspected the restaurant, and she recommended anyone who is sick to wash their hands regularly and stay home from work. Beyond that, Bodendein said she couldn’t discuss the investigation because it’s ongoing.

Beth Kaplan, a spokesperson for Wisconsin Department of Health Services, said her department was contacted by the Sauk County Health Department Oct. 4 about the potential outbreak at the Hillcrest restaurant. Kaplan said a customer had called the county with a complaint.

Kaplan said her department won’t know if the illnesses were a result of contaminated food at the restaurant or how many people were sick until the investigation is complete.
She said the health department did not close the restaurant, and it remains open for business.

“(The investigators) interview people involved, they interview people who work there, they take samples to see if anyone was or is sick,” Kaplan said.

“Then they look at lab results, try to make a determination of what it is or if it’s a particular food item that made people sick.”

Kaplan said the state’s health staff is considering norovirus as the potential cause of the illness.