Beaches closed at Lake Nokomis after E.coli sickens 3 children

Both the 50th Street and Main beaches are closed indefinitely.
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Three children have fallen ill as a result of E.coli after they swam at beaches on Lake Nokomis in Minneapolis.

Both the 50th Street and Main beaches at the southeast Minneapolis lake have been closed until further notice after health officials became aware of the illnesses, which came after the children swam in the lake between July 26 and August 2.

Minneapolis Parks and Recreation took the decision on the advice of the Minnesota Department of Health, with the children showing symptoms of a strain of Shiga toxin-producing E.Coli between Aug. 2 and 5.

None of the children have been hospitalized, though the health department notes that this particular strain of E. coli can lead to serious illness, and that more cases may yet be reported from people who swam in the lake.

"This is the first report of people getting ill from swimming in Minneapolis lakes we have had in more than two decades," said Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board Superintendent Board Al Bangoura in a statement on Tuesday.

"We take this this news very seriously and are working closely with the Minnesota Department of Health as they conduct their investigation."

Lake Nokomis is the latest Twin Cities lake to be affected by elevated E. coli levels in the water, which is the result of the "poop germ," more politely known by epidemiologists as the fecal indicator.

There have been similar closures this summer at two beaches on Bde Maka Ska and Lake Hiawatha in Minneapolis, McCarrons Lake in Roseville, Excelsior Beach on Lake Minnetonka, Carver Lake in Woodbury, and several more.

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The health department also thinks it's possible that fecal contamination was behind the major illness outbreak on Big Island at Lake Minnetonka over 4th of July weekend, though this wasn't confirmed.

Those who swam at Lake Nokomis in late July/early August are being encouraged to contact the MDH if they have been sick since then.

Symptoms of Shiga toxin-producing E.coli include stomach cramps and diarrhea, often with bloody stools, but only a low-grade or no fever.

Most become ill 2-5 days after exposure, but the range can be up to 8 days. In some cases it can lead to serious complications including kidney failure, with young children and the elderly particularly at risk.

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