October 15, 2019

E. coli Outbreak at Lake Minnetonka in Minnesota Sickens 30

A rather strange E. coli outbreak has sickened 30 people who visited Lake Minnetonka in Minnesota over the Fourth of July weekend. According to news reports, people have contacted the Hennepin County Public Health after they were on the lake, especially in the Big Island area. Those 30 cases have been confirmed by the department.

E. coli Outbreak at Lake Minnetonka in Minnesota

Public Health Epidemiology Manager Dave Johnson told MPR, “I would say that the symptoms are consistent with a water or food exposure and so we’ve been interviewing the ill persons to evaluate all potential exposures. So we’re asking them about, were they in the water, were they swimming, did they potentially accidentally ingest some water.

Public health officials do not know exactly how many cases of illness are connected to exposure to Lake Minnetonka. They do know that some patients have had to seek medical care for dehydration. Dehydration is a common side effect of an E. coli infection, which causes severe and sometimes bloody diarrhea.

The Minnesota Department of Health is running tests to try to identify the serotype of the pathogen causing the illness; it could be E. coli O26, O11, or O157:H7.  And Hennepin County is testing the lake water for pathogens.

Several beaches in the states were closed over the Fourth of July weekend precisely because officials found high levels of E. coli bacteria contamination. The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board closed Bde Make Ska’s Thomas Beach, 32nd Street Beach, and Lake Hiawatha Beach would remain closed through July 10, 2019 at the earliest. The heavy rainfall last week brought large amounts of stormwater into the lakes.

Comments

  1. Bill Flandon says

    Headline says E.coli outbreak…but the article goes on to say the MDH is running tests to understand what pathogen causes the illness. Huh?

    • Linda Larsen says

      Officials are most likely looking for the specific serotype of E. coli, which could be O157:H7, O26, O11, or others. Some of these strains are more virulent than others. I have clarified that in the piece. Thanks!

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