MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Hennepin County Public Health is investigating several reports of illness possibly connected to Big Island in Lake Minnetonka.

Summer holidays and Lake Minnetonka go hand in hand for many Minnesotans.

Austin Hilgenberg, along with family and friends, lined their boat up with dozens more to celebrate the Fourth of July at Big Island. But fun memories aren’t all they left with this year.

“So, I started feeling really nauseous probably the morning of the 7, three days after the Fourth of July,” Hilgenberg said. “I had symptoms that are very similar to food poisoning.”

Hilgenberg said he was cramping, vomiting and had diarrhea.

“I mean, it’s the full nine yards,” Hilgenberg said.

He says the majority of his group had the same sickness even though they didn’t eat the same foods.

“Well, I know I was fully submerged in the water, and I actually had my girlfriend on my shoulders and she wasn’t in the water and she didn’t get sick,” Hilgenberg said.

Hilgenberg went to the doctor and says he was told his symptoms were similar to an E. coli infection. According to the Mayo Clinic, the sickness typically happens three or four days after exposure and could come from drinking contaminated water, including lakes.

Hennepin County Public Health says they’ve yet to identify a source of sickness but want people with similar symptoms to contact them.

“So, I spoke with Minnesota Department of Public Health this morning, told them some of my symptoms and they had me send in the names of the individuals who were on my boat,” Hilgenberg said.

Hilgenberg was advised to rest up and drink fluids – the only remedy to make his illness drift away.

“For now, I’m gonna just take it easy and hopefully it’s smooth sailing,” Hilgenberg said.

At the doctor, Hilgenberg gave a stool sample and had his bloodwork done. He’s hoping to get the results back soon.

Anyone who went to Big Island and experienced similar symptoms is asked to call 612-543-5230.

Jeff Wagner

Comments (5)
  1. Michael Smith says:

    Swimming in Big Island’s fecal matter and urine infested waters will test anyone’s immune system…

  2. Heidi Willeck Vesco says:

    TRIBUNE IS DEADLY

    Do YOU let your CHILDREN or GRAND CHILDREN swim in this lake?

    Why is there NO RESTRICTIONS for SWIMMING or FISH CONSUMPTION? This sign was posted right next to the beach? How is this LEGAL? This is ROUND UP or AGENT ORANGE for water!!!

    TOXICOLOGICAL EFFECTS
    ACUTE TOXICITY
    Diquat dibromide is a moderately toxic chemical (34). It may be fatal to humans if swallowed, inhaled, or absorbed through the skin (4). Concentrated solutions may cause severe irritation of the mouth, throat, esophagus and stomach followed by nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, severe drying out of bodily tissues, gastrointestinal discomfort, chest pain, diarrhea, kidney failure, and toxic liver damage (24, 36, 42). Very large doses of the herbicide can result in convulsions and tremors (36). Rats given lethal doses of diquat showed few signs of illness during the first 24 hours. They then exhibited lethargy, pupil dilation, respiratory distress, weight loss weakness and finally death over the course of 2 to 14 days after dosing. Similar patterns of symptoms occurred in mice, guinea pigs, rabbits, dogs, cows and hens (38).
    Diquat dibromide is acutely toxic when it is absorbed through the skin and the possibility for poisoning increases with repeated exposure (35). Dermal adsorption is higher where the skin is cut or abraded (36). Although absorption is reportedly low following dermal exposure, the demonstrated toxicity of this compound is sufficient to raise serious human health concerns. Small amounts of diquat can cause skin irritation and sores, as well as delayed healing of cuts and wounds (37). When absorbed through the skin, some commercial concentrate formulations of diquat can cause symptoms similar to those that occur when it is eaten. There have been reports of workers who have had softening and color changes in one or more fingernails after contact with concentrated diquat dibromide solutions. In some instances, the nail was shed, and did not grow in again (18). A single dose of diquat was not irritating to the skin of rabbits. Repeated dermal doses cause mild redness, thickening, and scabbing (38).
    Diquat dibromide also causes eye irritation (5, 27). Several cases of severe injury to human eyes have been reported after accidental splashings. In each case, initial irritation was mild, but after several days, serious burns and sometimes scarring of the cornea developed (12). Moderate to severe membrane irritation occurred when diquat was put in the eyes of rabbits (5).
    Direct or excessive inhalation of diquat dibromide spray mist or dust may result in oral or nasal irritation, nosebleeds, headache, sore throat, coughing, and symptoms similar to those from ingestion of diquat (5, 18).
    The amount of a chemical that is lethal to one-half (50%) of experimental animals fed the material is referred to as its acute oral lethal dose fifty, or LD50. The lower the LD50 is for a chemical, the more toxic it is; the higher the LD50, the less toxic it is. The oral LD50 for diquat in rats is 120 mg/kg, 233 mg/kg in mice, 188 mg/kg in rabbits, 187 mg/kg in guinea pigs and dogs. Cows appear to be particularly sensitive to this herbicide, with an oral LD50 of 30 to 56 mg/kg (1, 42). The acute dermal LD50 for diquat dibromide is 250-400 mg/kg in rabbits (37).