MN Commissioner of Health weighs in on e-coli on Duluth beaches

By KBJR News 1

August 13, 2014 Updated Aug 13, 2014 at 6:34 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) -- The Minnesota Commissioner of Health is weighing in on this summer's e–coli warnings along the beaches of Duluth.

Thousands of people flock to Park Point Beach in Duluth on hot summer days, which are few and far between in Minnesota; but what happens if you see a sign telling you it's unsafe to swim there?

"If I really feel like I need some water and really want to go swimming I probably not really pay attention to the sign, but on most cases like today where I just want to enjoy the sun I would pay caution to the sign," said Jonathan Lo, who was visiting the beach.

Minnesota Health Experts say those signs are there for a reason.

"If there are signs of warning there, I would avoid swimming if I could, if people are going in there they are taking a risk on their own," said Minnesota Commissioner of Health, Dr. Ed Ehlinger.

Minnesota Health officials say the number of geese on the point and water temperatures have contributed to the higher levels of e–coli.

The bacteria, which can cause intestinal infections, can be contracted through direct contact with the water, but health officials say it depends on how much contact you have.

"Depending on how healthy you are to start with, but also how much water you take in and swallow, if you bathe off after using it, not having food in that area," said Dr. Ehlinger.

He said there are many ways in which water gets contaminated and a variety of agencies are taking steps to make sure the water stays clean.

"It's a whole issue on how do we deal with waste, runoff, agricultural runoff. We are really trying to improve all of the environmental health activities. The Pollution Control Agency is working on it, the DNR is working on it to try to decrease the runoff into lakes, rivers and streams," said Ehlinger.

Park Point Beach has been under two no water contact advisories so far this summer.
On Wednesday, the beach was deemed safe for swimming. Testing is done every Monday and Wednesday.

Posted to the web by Kati Anderson.