Illnesses shut down Lake Nokomis beaches

At least three illnesses linked to E. coli

Mark Freie
August 14, 2019 - 5:13 am

Angela Kotsell

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Beaches sat quiet Tuesday at Lake Nokomis after health officials closed them over concerns of E. coli.

The closure comes after three children, all under the age of ten, reported a diarrheal illness after swimming in the lake. They became sick between August 2 and August 5, and swam in the lake between July 26 and August 2.

Typically, runoff from storm water is the cause for E. coli. This time, it's believed a sick swimmer is to blame.

"Just the small amount of fecal matter that we carry bring with us into the water is unfortunately enough to contaminate an entire beach area and make people sick," said Trisha Robinson with the Minnesota Department of Health.

Robinson added that symptoms typically develop one to eight days after exposure.

“This is a specific strain that makes people sick,” she said. "“We should not be going swimming while we’re sick with diarrhea, and that is often how it’s introduced."

It's the first time in 25 years that an illness has forced a beach closure at a Minneapolis lake.

Not swimming while your sick remains the best way to keep lake water clean. However, while you might not have a clue that the water is contaminated, there are ways to protect yourself when swimming.

“Don’t swallow the water, don’t ingest the water, wash your hands afterward, don’t bring dogs in, don’t bring in leaky diapers, kind of that public health prevention,” said Deb Pilger, the environmental services director for the Minneapolis Park and Recreations Board.

Lake Nokomis beaches will remain closed until health officials determine the water is not a risk to to the public. Currently, their tests do not show reults for this type of E. coli.

If you've been sick after swimming at Lake Nokomis, contact your health care provider. You can also use a health department hotline 651-201-5655 or email health.foodill@state.mn.us.

Related: Number of lake-related illnesses grows

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