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Three E. Coli Illnesses Linked on Lake Minnetonka | News

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Three E. Coli Illnesses Linked on Lake Minnetonka
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Boater on Lake Minnetonka. - Photo: KSTP File Photo

Three E. coli illnesses have been linked to swimming in the Big Island area of Lake Minnetonka, the Minnesota Department of Health reported Friday, July 19.

Routine reportable disease monitoring by state health officials identified three cases of the infection with the same DNA fingerprint.  The illnesses occurred in young adults who are residents in the seven-county metro. The adults were swimming and boating July 4 in the Big Island area of Lake Minnetonka, where numerous boaters are known to gather.

"This is the first waterborne outbreak of the summer and illustrates why it is so important that people take steps to prevent infection," said Trisha Robinson, an epidemiologist specializing in waterborne diseases at the (MDH), in a statement. "If swimmers can follow some basic precautions, hopefully we can prevent more outbreaks at other swimming locations."

The source of the E. coli in the water is unknown, according to the state. Lakes can be contaminated through multiple methods, including animal waste, individual septic systems or sewage spills, improper boat waste disposal or ill swimmers.

People who swim when they're ill can easily contaminate the water - even if they don't have a fecal accident, the state reported. The best way to prevent recreational water illnesses is to keep germs out of the water in the first place, according to health officials.

Tips to Healthy Swimming

  • Don't swim when you have diarrhea.
  • Don't swallow lake water.
  • Practice good hygiene. Shower with soap before swimming.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly after using the toilet or changing diapers.
  • Take children on bathroom breaks or change diapers often.
  • Change diapers in a bathroom - not beach side.

Symptoms of E. Coli

  • Illness typically includes stomach cramps and diarrhea, often with bloody stools.
  • Those ill have little or no fever.
  • Illness typically happens five days after swimming in contaminated water.
  • Sometimes, the infection can lead to serious complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which can cause kidney failure and other severe problems, including death.
  • HUS can occur a week or more after the onset of diarrhea.
  • The very young, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems are at a higher risk of developing complications from E. coli.
  • Anyone who believes they have E. coli should contact their doctor.
  • Click here for updated information about beach water quality in Hennepin County lakes.
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