MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Disease investigators have identified at least 49 people who became ill after swimming at Lake Nokomis in Minneapolis, including three lab-confirmed cases of E. coli.
According to the Minnesota Department of Health, the cases include both children and adults, with 20% of the cases impacting children younger than 10. No one has been hospitalized.
Investigators say all those who became ill with diarrhea swam at the lake between July 16 and Aug. 11.
On Sunday, 1,600 women participated in the YWCA Triathlon on Lake Nokomis. Of the 49 reported cases of E. coli, the MDH says some of them were swimmers in that race.
Linda Canfield swam for about 15 minutes in Lake Nokomis during the triathlon. “Right as I was going around one of the turns, I got jostled in my head and I took a huge gulp of water,” said Canfield, “It was such a shock, that I swallowed it. I did think while I was swimming, ‘I probably have E. coli.’”
Canfield said she saw symptoms on the Wednesday after the race, but they went away after a few hours. “I wouldn’t have thought twice about it if I hadn’t just been in Lake Nokomis three days prior,” said Canfield.
Doug Schultz, with the health department, said they did know about the reported illnesses before the race, but did not know they were from Lake Nokomis. Dawn Sommers, with the Minneapolis Park Board, said the board does weekly beach tests, but did not find high levels of E. coli the Monday before and after the triathlon.
The beaches at the lake were closed earlier this week after three children became sick with Shiga toxin-producing E. coli. Officials say the beaches will remain closed the rest of the swimming season.
Anyone experiencing symptoms of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli – including diarrhea (often bloody), stomach cramps or low-grade fever – should see a doctor. Anyone who visited Lake Nokomis from mid-July through mid-August is asked to complete an online survey for the Minnesota Department of Health.
Two beaches at Bde Maka Ska — Thomas and 32nd Street — plus Lake Hiawatha Beach are also closed indefinitely due to elevated E. coli levels. Officials say these lakes contain a different strain of E. coli that likely entered the bodies of water via this summer’s heavy rains.