Avoiding water-borne illness this summer

Trees are reflected by the morning light on Lake Minnetonka.
Trees are reflected by the morning light on Lake Minnetonka on June 28, 2019. Contamination at three Minneapolis beaches and reported illness among several Lake Minnetonka visitors has many worried about getting sick when they swim.
Evan Frost | MPR News file

Hennepin County Public Health has confirmed at least 30 people were sickened on Lake Minnetonka July 4. Epidemiologists are still investigating whether the illness is food-borne or water-borne, but the cases and news of E. coli contamination at three Minneapolis beaches has many in the state worried about getting sick when they swim.

Dr. Jon Hallberg told MPR News host Tom Crann swimmers should avoid swallowing water and avoid being in the water if they've been sick.

"Most of the illnesses we're talking about that are associated with either drinking water or recreation exposure to water come down to feces, either human or animal," said Hallberg, medical director of the University of Minnesota Physicians Mill City Clinic. "So, if people have had diarrhea, they absolutely need to avoid being in either a pool or a lake. We've got children in diapers — it's just not a good idea to be in there if they've been sick."

For more on water-borne illness, including what to consider if you're travelling out of the country this summer, click play on the audio player above.

This reporting is part of The Water Main, our initiative that aims to bring people together, move conversations forward and create meaningful connections that help sustain clean, abundant water for all.

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