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Lake Nokomis beaches closed after E. coli outbreak identified

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Trisha Robinson with the Minnesota Department of Health speaks to media.
Trisha Robinson with the Minnesota Department of Health speaks to reporters at Minneapolis Park Board headquarters on Aug. 13, 2019.
Matt Sepic | MPR News

Three children are sick from E. coli bacteria after swimming in a Minneapolis lake, state health officials said Tuesday. The children have tested positive for the same strain of E. coli after swimming at Lake Nokomis beaches between July 26 and Aug. 2.

Two beaches of the lake are closed until further notice, the Minnesota Department of Health said Tuesday. The children, all under the age of 10, were not hospitalized. 

Minneapolis Park Board Superintendent Al Bangoura said it’s the first time someone has fallen ill after swimming in a Minneapolis lake in more than 20 years. 

“We take this very seriously and are working closely with the Minnesota Department of Health as they conduct their investigation,” Bangoura said in a news release. 

Symptoms of illness caused by E. coli bacteria include stomach cramps and diarrhea, with a mild or no fever. People typically become ill one to eight days after exposure.  It’s rare, but the infections sometimes lead to a serious complication involving kidney failure. Health officials say children younger than 10 years old, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems have a higher chance of developing complications from E. coli infections. 

“This is also an important reminder that anyone who is experiencing diarrhea should not go swimming while they are sick,” said Trisha Robinson, waterborne disease supervisor at the Health Department. 

Officials also want to hear from anyone else who may have become ill after swimming in Lake Nokomis.

“If there are other people who have gone swimming and are concerned about their symptoms of illness, we very much encourage them to contact their health care providers," Robinson said.