Published On: Sun, Jul 21st, 2013

E.coli outbreak linked to swimming in the Big Island area of Lake Minnetonka

Minnesota health officials are warning the public to practice healthy swimming steps when swimming in any lake in the wake of an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 illness.



The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) has identified three cases of E. coli O157:H7 illness in Minnesotans linked to swimming in the Big Island area of Lake Minnetonka.

The source of the E. coli in the water is unknown. However, lakes can be contaminated through multiple methods, including animal waste, individual septic systems or sewage spills, improper boat waste disposal or ill swimmers.

The three cases reported, young adults, and all are residents of the seven-county metropolitan area, have the same DNA fingerprint.

One person required hospitalization for their illness.

“Swimming in Minnesota’s lakes is a very fun and healthy summertime activity, but it also can be a source of illness,” said Trisha Robinson, an epidemiologist specializing in waterborne diseases with the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). “This is the first waterborne outbreak of the summer and illustrates why it is so important that people take steps to prevent infection. If swimmers can follow some basic precautions, hopefully we can prevent more outbreaks at other swimming locations.”

The symptoms of  E. coli O157:H7 infections vary for each person but often include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea (often bloody), and vomiting. If there is fever, it usually is not very high (less than 101˚F/less than 38.5˚C). Most people get better within 5–7 days. Some infections are very mild, but others are severe or even life-threatening.

Around 5–10% of those who are diagnosed with STEC infection develop a potentially life-threatening complication known as hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).

Anyone who believes they may have developed E. coli should contact their health care provider.

All public beaches on Lake Minnetonka remain open and have passed their regular water quality monitoring tests, health officials report.

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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