Lake Nokomis beaches closed after E.coli outbreak sickens 3 children

Two Lake Nokomis beaches are closed after an E.coli outbreak sickened three children.

According to health and park officials, the children swam at the Minneapolis beaches between July 26 and August 1. The children are all under the age of 10.

Lake Nokomis' 50th Street Beach and Lake Nokomis' Main Beach are both closed until further notice. 

"Lake Nokomis is a very busy and heavily-used lake. We have a variety of different youth and adult programs that take place at Nokomis, and all of our participants have been communicated with," said Sarah Chillo, Aquatics Manager with the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.

Officials say the strain of E.coli in these cases is not the same strain officials regularly test for. The strain that sickened the children is Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli, or STEC.

The children are recovering as officials continue investigating the outbreak. The most common symptom of the illness is diarrhea. Anyone with similar symptoms is urged to contact their healthcare provider and the health department.

Experts say the outbreak may have been caused by another swimmer who was sick when they went in the water, but the official cause is not yet known.

So far this year, officials have closed six beaches, including some along Bde Maka Ska that are still closed.

"This is highly unusual for us to have this many have to close a beach due to illness," said Deb Pilger, Director of Environmental Management for the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. "I've been with the department for 25 years and, in that time, there's never been a closure due to reported illnesses." 

For more information on beach closures, click here.

Tips for safe swimming:

-Don't go in the water if you're sick

-Don't ingest the water

-Wash your hands after going in the water; shower after going in the water

-Don't let children in diapers go in the lake

-Don't change diapers near the water; go to a designated changing area

-Encourage bathroom breaks; don't go to the bathroom in the water