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Updated: 06/13/2013 11:32 AM
Created: 06/13/2013 11:31 AM | Print |  Email
By: Jennie Olson

WEB EXTRA: Bacteria Levels in Lakes Related to Rainfall

Photo: MGN Online

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board is offering information about bacteria levels and health risks for lake swimmers. According to the city, bacteria levels generally increase immediately after rainfall. Here’s more information, courtesy of the board:

  • Increased bacteria levels predominantly come from waterfowl and pet wastes in yards, streets and parks that wash into lakes either directly or through the storm sewers as the result of a heavy rain. Picking up after your dog or cat is one way to reduce the amount of bacteria in storm water runoff.
  • Elevated bacterial levels in lakes generally return to normal levels within 48 hours of a rainfall. To lower your risk of exposure to high bacteria levels in lake water, avoid swimming after a rainfall.
  • Do not go swimming if you or your child have diarrhea, to prevent the transmission of the disease.
  • Be careful to not get lake water in your mouth. Wash your hands before eating and after changing a diaper. And shower afterwards if possible.

Swimmer's itch sometimes impacts local lakes and beaches. The parasite is irritating but harmless, the city says:

  • Characterized by small, irritating red welts that appear after swimming. Sensitive individuals may itch for several weeks.
  • Occurs most often after swimming on hot, still summer days.
  • Caused by a parasite that infects birds and snails during different stages of its life. The parasite is unable to live in humans.
  • To avoid becoming infected, towel dry immediately after exiting the water and shower afterwards, when possible.

You can view a current beach status here or call the MPRB Beach Hotline at 612-313-7713.

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