E. coli found in water at southwest Minnesota state park

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The summer camping season is off to an icky start at one Minnesota state park.

Just prior to the Memorial Day weekend, E. coli has been found in the drinking water in Blue Mounds State Park, north of Luverne in far southwestern Minnesota. The park posted a visitor alert:

"On May 12, 2014, the water system serving the office and main campground (excluding the picnic grounds, group camp and cart-in/tipi sites) tested positive for E. coli bacteria and is not safe for consumption."

Park officials suggest visitors bring their own drinking water, although the park office is also providing gallon jugs of drinking water.

Officials are conducting tests and say they will notify visitors as soon as it is safe to drink the water again.

Campers Peggy and Roger Ryden told KELO-TV in Souix Falls, South Dakota, they decided to keep to their plan to stay in the park for four days, as part of a trip to Wyoming. But they came prepared.

"We have some of our water to be able to do dishes safely and then picked up a solar shower to be able to wash our hair and face," Peggy Ryden said.

Certain strains of the E. coli bacteria can cause severe illness. KELO notes that E. coli detected in water sources is often linked to animal waste runoff.

About 160 to 220 cases of E. coli-related illness are reported in Minnesota each year, the state health department says. More E. coli facts here from the CDC.

Last July, the health department said three E. coli infections were found in people who swam at a popular gathering spot for swimmers in Lake Minnetonka.

Also in July, citing E. coli concerns, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board closed two beaches in the city, one at Lake Hiawatha and the other at the south end of Lake Calhoun.

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