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Illness cases at Lake Nokomis in Minneapolis grows to 69

Star Tribune - 8/20/2019

Health officials have confirmed 69 people became ill after swimming in Lake Nokomis in Minneapolis, a week after the lake’s beaches were closed following an E. coli outbreak.

The update Tuesday from the Minnesota Department of Health means an additional 20 people have shown symptoms of bacterial infection since Friday. To contain the outbreak, the lake’s two beaches will remain closed for the rest of the season.

Meanwhile, four other public beaches in Minneapolis remain closed for another week after showing levels of E. coli that exceeded state standards, according to the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. The season has brought the most beach closures at any one time since the city began testing for the bacteria in 2003.

Of the 69 cases, 20% were children 10 years old or younger, according to Doug Schultz, a spokesman with the Department of Health. None of the people sickened has been hospitalized, he said.

The Park Board tested for bacteria in every lake but Nokomis on Monday. Theodore Wirth Lake Beach, Lake Hiawatha Beach and the beaches at Bde Maka Ska Thomas and Bde Maka Ska 32nd Street will stay closed for another week, said Park Board spokeswoman Robin Smothers.

The last bacteria test of the season is next Monday, Aug. 26. The swimming season ends Sept. 2, at which date beaches remain open but without a lifeguard on duty.

Schultz said the Department of Health is urging people who are sick to stay out of the lakes, and for people who swim to refrain from swallowing the water.

This is a developing story. Check back with StarTribune.com for updates.

Miguel Otárola • 612-673-4753

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