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172 now sickened in Lake Minnetonka illness outbreak

Health officials provided an update on Friday afternoon.

There are now 172 people confirmed to have been sickened in the outbreak linked to the party spot of Big Island on Lake Minnetonka over Fourth of July.

Hennepin County health officials provided an update on Friday on the outbreak, which has resulted in scores of those who spent time on the lake over the holiday weekend having suffered from vomiting and diarrhea.

They have not been able to identify the exact pathogen that has caused the illness yet, but did say they believe that the outbreak is the result of something in the lake water, which was then ingested by those at the lake.

That's because the number of people affected is so large that it's not likely to be the result of ingesting tainted food and drink, given that people were drinking and eating many different things on the lake.

Most symptoms have lasted 24-48 hours, with the age of the victims ranging widely, but most of them are in their mid-20s to early-30s. Because the symptoms aren't that severe, e.Coli has been ruled out as the cause.

It's possible that the precise cause of the illness may not be found at all, even when the pathogen is identified.

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Amid suggestions that there was peeing and even pooping into the lake happening over the weekend, the county did say that one of the possible causes could include fecal matter having found its way into the water from someone carrying an infection.

While in isolated instances this wouldn't have an effect due to dilution in the lake, on this occasion it had the potential to cause the number of sicknesses seen as a large number of people were congregated in the same area.

"Again, there could be multiple things at play, people were not all right next to each other, we may never know," said Trisha Robinson, of the Minnesota Department of Health.

The county says there's not an ongoing risk at the Big Island location, and there have been no new illnesses reported related to Lake Minnetonka that has happened since the Fourth of July gathering.

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