MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Health officials closed both beaches at Lake Nokomis in Minneapolis Tuesday after three kids who swam there became sick with E. coli.
It's the first time in at least 25 years an illness has forced a beach closure at a Minneapolis lake. Officials are trying to determine if there's an ongoing risk.
The typically busy beach areas at Lake Nokomis were quiet Tuesday evening. Signs show they're temporarily closed.
"This is a specific strain that makes people sick," said Trisha Robinson with the Minnesota Department of Health.
Three kids under the age of 10 became sick with a strain of E. coli after swimming at Nokomis near the end of July. They became sick between August 2 and August 5, and swam in the lake between July 26 and August 2.
"It causes a diarrheal illness, typically it's something that develops one to eight days after your exposure," Robinson said.
MDH officials thinks a sick swimmer is the culprit.
"We should not be going swimming while we're sick with diarrhea, and that is often how it's introduced. That doesn't mean somebody poops in the pool, poops in the lake. Just a small amount of fecal material that we all bring in the water with us is unfortunately enough to contaminate an entire beach area and make people sick," Robinson said.
There have been beach closures around Minneapolis for high levels of E. coli this summer, but that's primarily due to a lot of rain. The weekly monitoring won't catch this kind. Deb Pilger, environmental services director for the Minneapolis Park and Recreations Board, offers ways to protect yourself.
"Don't swallow the water, don't ingest the water, wash your hands afterward, don't bring dogs in, don't bring in leaky diapers, kind of that public health prevention," Pilger said.
Plain and simple, Robinson say if you're sick -- stay out of the water.
Activities at Lake Nokomis have been cancelled, like swim lessons, swim club and log rolling.
If you have been sick after swimming at Lake Nokomis, contact your health care provider.
The health department has a hotline to call 651-201-5655 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Both beaches will remain closed until it's clear there's no public health risk.
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