Series

Elizabethkingia culture
A bacteria named Elizabethkingia anophelis infected scores of people in Wisconsin in late 2015 and early 2016, and at least 18 of these patients subsequently died. The bacteria occurs commonly in the environment, but the aggressive, drug-resistant infections it causes are very rare. State and federal public health officials have struggled to understand the source of this outbreak. Elizabethkingia bacteria are relatively new to science, and this pattern of infections differed significantly from others in the medical literature. Previous outbreaks have usually centered around specific hospitals and intensive-care units, whereas the Wisconsin patients were spread around the southern and eastern parts of the state and didn't have any one medical facility in common.More
Aerial view of Milwaukee, looking southeast
Milwaukee experienced a dramatic increase in shootings and homicides in 2015. This violence was concentrated in the poorest areas of Wisconsin's largest city, one with entrenched racial and economic disparities. The locations of most homicides correspond with the zip codes that have the highest poverty rates, the lowest levels of educational attainment, weak access to mental-health services, and high numbers of people struggling to pay rent. These issues are also connected to historical events like the city's urban-renewal programs of the 1960s, which displaced many African-American families from their homes.More
Chickens
An unprecedented avian influenza epidemic struck the poultry industry in the U.S. over the spring and early summer of 2015. It was concentrated in several Midwestern states, with Wisconsin seeing infections in several counties that are home to major turkey and chicken operations. Both federal and state government agencies worked in tandem with poultry farmers to halt and prevent further spread of the disease, resulting in the destruction of more than 1.9 million birds in the state. The epidemic was a serious agricultural challenge for the nation, driving up egg prices and spurring officials and poultry producers to strengthen biosecurity measures intended to limit the spread and impact of animal diseases.More
Schools have long served meals to students in programs supported by state and federal policies, but there's rising interest in using foods grown and raised closer to home. Farm-to-school programs aim to improve the nutrition of schoolchildren and teach them about agriculture, health, business and more. These efforts are likewise structured to create new markets for growers in nearby communities. Schools across Wisconsin have implemented farm-to-school projects and curricula. But the programs take a wide variety of forms, and making them work often requires schools, farmers and advocates to build complex new relationships and infrastructure.More
Bullying not only harms children, but likewise poses a challenge to parents, caretakers, educators and community leaders. Rates of bullying reported by surveyed students varies, but it's a persistent problem with ongoing consequences for mental health -- both bullying victims and their aggressors face an increased risk of suicide. In the 21st century, children are also facing the issue of cyberbullying through social networks and other digital communications. Trusted adults play an integral role in prevention and intervention, by teaching kids how to get along better with others and resolve disagreements respectfully, by modeling appropriate behaviors, and by advocating on behalf of vulnerable individuals.More