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2 beaches at Lake Nokomis close due to E. coli outbreak involving 3 children

Updated: August 14, 2019 04:44 PM

Two beaches at Lake Nokomis in Minneapolis have closed due to three cases of illnesses reported in kids who swam at the beaches, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.

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MDH said three cases of E. coli have been confirmed in children who swam at the beaches between July 26 and Aug. 1.

All of the children are 10-years-old or younger, according to MDH.

They started showing symptoms between Aug. 2 and Aug. 5. According to MDH, all three children had a strain of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli, or STEC.

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The beaches will remain closed as health officials investigate.

“While we take the measures that are necessary to identify if there is any ongoing risk to the public at this time,” said Trisha Robinson, waterborne disease supervisor of MDH. “All of the individuals are recovering and none of them are hospitalized.”

There is no timeline for re-opening the beaches.

“We encourage anyone who swam recently at Lake Nokomis and has symptoms of E. coli to contact their health care provider,” said Robinson.

She told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that symptoms can take up to eight days to develop. Symptoms can include stomach cramps and diarrhea.

According to Robinson, this illness was likely caused by a sick swimmer in the water. The cause is still under investigation.

“I have to say I’ve been with the organization for more than 25 years and this is the first time we've closed beaches due to reported illnesses and we just learned of these reported illnesses today,” said Deb Pilger, Director of Environmental Management for the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board. “We encourage people to let us know if they've been out at Lake Nokomis and if they feel like they're having any illness issues.”

According to Pilger, they test city lakes for E. coli every Monday, including on Aug. 5. She said the strain the children were exposed to, STEC, doesn’t show up on the tests.

On Aug. 5, the tests showed higher levels of E.coli compared to previous weeks, however, it was well within the limit set by state guidelines.

The strain of E. coli the children were exposed to is not the same bacteria that has closed other city beaches this summer, according to a spokesperson for the Parks and Recreation Board. She said other beaches have been closed due to contamination likely from runoff.

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) are asking anyone who visited Lake Nokomis, regardless of if they got sick, to complete a brief MDH online survey. If the public has any questions, they may call the Foodborne and Waterborne Illness Hotline at 651-201-5655.

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