I was fortunate enough to grow up not far from Brainerd, one of the most visited vacation and outdoors locations in the state. The multitude of lakes and trees that many folks call "God's Country" is one of the most densely clustered areas of vacation cabins and resorts in Minnesota. Who would have thought such a beautiful and desirable place would have such a gross medical condition named after it?

The condition is called Brainerd Diarrhea, and it was first discovered in 1983 during an outbreak in Brainerd, Minnesota. That outbreak sickened 122 people, and was the largest of any known outbreak of the disease. I'm going to warn you here, it gets kind of gross from here. This is what the CDC describes as the symptoms of Brainerd Diarrhea:

Brainerd diarrhea is a syndrome of acute onset of watery diarrhea ( 3 or more loose stools per day) lasting 4 weeks or longer, which can occur in outbreaks or as sporadic cases. It is named after Brainerd, Minnesota, the town where the first outbreak occurred in 1983. Patients typically experience 10-20 episodes per day of explosive, watery diarrhea, characterized by urgency and often by fecal incontinence. Accompanying symptoms include gas, mild abdominal cramping, and fatigue. Nausea, vomiting, and systemic symptoms such as fever are rare, although many patients experience slight weight loss.

Yeah, gross. The CDC says they don't really know what the cause of Brainerd Diarrhea is, but they assume it's a chemical toxin that is ingested; though they haven't identified said toxin to this point. In the case of the original Brainerd outbreak, the working theory is that it came from unpasteurized milk.

Luckily Brainerd Diarrhea is pretty rare. Since the original 1983 outbreak, there have been 7 additional outbreaks. Six of them were in the United States, and five of them were in rural areas.

Thanks to my co-worker Steve for the heads-up on this little-known, but gross fact about our great state and my old stomping grounds. I guess you learn something new every day!