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Fond du Lac tribe says E. coli illnesses confirmed on reservation

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Leaders of the Fond du Lac band of Chippewa say health officials have confirmed food-borne illnesses linked to E. coli bacteria on the reservation.

A statement on the tribe's website says the band is working with the Minnesota Department of Health to determine the number of people affected and the source of the illnesses.

Northland's News Center says 6 to 12 people have developed symptoms of E. coli poisoning over the past few weeks. The station reports Health Department investigators do not know what strain of E. coli is involved in the outbreak but expect to have test results later this week.

Tribal chairwoman Karen Diver told Northland's News Center several recent public events held on the reservation featured food served by private vendors, caterers, and the band's own food service.

The statement on the tribe's website encouraged people with leftover food items from those events to discard them.

The Health Department had issued no statement about the outbreak by Monday evening.

The department is already investigating an E. coli outbreak that sickened 15 people, most of whom reported eating at any of nine Minnesota Applebee's restaurants during late June.

According to a Health Department fact sheet, there are hundreds of strains of Escherichia coli bacteria, most of which are harmless. But the most dangerous strain produces a toxin that can lead to severe illness marked by abdominal cramps and diarrhea. More serious complications can develop, especially among small children and the elderly.

The Health Department says four people sickened in the outbreak linked to Applebee's were hospitalized but all are recovering.

The Fond du Lac reservation straddles Carlton and St. Louis Counties and is about 15 miles west of Duluth.

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