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E. coli in our lakes: What does it really mean?

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on the personal blog of University of Minnesota associate professor of biosciences Timothy Johnson, Ph.D.
Johnson’s research at the U of M College of Veterinary Medicine includes investigations into antibiotic resistance in bacterial pathogens, microbial communities in the animal gastrointestinal tract, and multidrug resistance of E. coli and Salmonella in both humans and animals.

If you follow the local news, or have children that love swimming, you have probably noticed an increasing number of beaches in Minnesota closed recently due to high E. coli levels. Just in Minneapolis, Lake Hiawatha Beach and Lake Calhoun’s Thomas and 32nd Street beaches were recently closed in response to high E. coli counts in the water. The simple phrase “E. coli” strikes fear into the hearts of anyone who has ever experienced gastrointestinal distress. However, it is important to understand what E. coli actually is and what “high E. coli levels” actually means to our lakes.

What is E. coliE. coli stands for Escherichia coli. This is the formal name for a species of bacteria in honor of the German-Austrian physician Theodor Escherich, who first identified the bacteria associated with digestion in infants. Here are the important take-home messages about E. coli:

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5 tips for traveling with your pet this summer

Whether flying out of town or setting out on road trip with your pet this summer, it’s important to travel safely.

Kelly Tart, D.V.M., veterinary emergency medicine specialist and assistant clinical professor in the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine, spoke to Health Talk about five simple tips that will help make a stressful travel experience safer and more enjoyable.

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Health Talk Recommends: Know the true signs of drowning

Summer is a great time for hitting the water, but whether you’re a beach bum or a pool enthusiast, it’s important to keep one eye on safety. Know the true signs of drowning.

When someone is drowning, most people assume waving, splashing and cries for help will precede a person being in true peril, giving ample time for bystanders to help. But according to a recent article on, drowning is generally not so animated.

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Summer safety tips: Hydration is a must

This summer you might be planning to get outside and partake in a variety of fun activities. But whether you’re planning to hike, play bocce ball or just relax in the water, it’s important that you stay safe and stay hydrated.

William Roberts, M.D., professor with the University of Minnesota Medical School, Family Medicine and Community Health, is here to offer his summer safety tips for staying hydrated:

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