There have been several reports (on Facebook) of ‘Swimmers Itch’ in parts of our lake and river system. Below is some additional information and resources to help you navigate this pesty parasite. The SLA Association, does not complete water testing. However a great water quality resource to use is the annual HKPR District Health Unit Beach Water Monitoring program which begins in June and runs until September every year. (Labour Day) They test waters at designated beaches and inform the public when elevated levels of E. coli bacteria are identified. As part of this program, HKPR District Health Unit public health staff collect water samples from each beach for monitoring. These samples are then sent to a provincial lab and tested for levels of E. coli bacteria. The Norland Beach (Bathing Area – located on Shadow Lake Rd 3) is apart of this testing.
The Beach Water Monitoring program results are updated every Friday on the HKPR District Health Unit’s website hkpr.on.ca/BeachCheck and social media platforms @HKPRDHU. In addition, warning signs will be prominently displayed at local beaches to inform beachgoers about water safety.
What is Swimmers Itch? (Source: www.hkpr.on.ca )
- A skin rash that causes itching and redness. You can get it while swimming
- There is no treatment required for Swimmer’s Itch. While the rash is uncomfortable, itching symptoms may continue for several days, before disappearing within several days
- People are encouraged to avoid scratching if at all possible. Applying skin lotions to the affected areas of the body can provide some relief
- Swimmer’s Itch affects people of all ages, but children are most often affected since they play or swim in shallow water where the parasite that causes Swimmer’s Itch is most likely to be found
What Causes Swimmers Itch? (Source: www.hkpr.on.ca )
- Usually caused by a parasite called Shistosomes, which commonly affects birds, semi-aquatic mammals, and snails
- Parasite will penetrate the skin of people who swim in water infested with Schistosomes (typically in shallow water close to shore). These invisible parasites burrow under the skin and quickly die, causing an allergic reaction (Swimmer’s Itch)
- It’s hard to predict when and where Swimmer’s Itch will occur. The presence of parasites that cause the condition is based on a number of biological and environmental factors.
Preventing Swimmers Itch (Source: www.hkpr.on.ca )
- Check for warning signs at public beaches, lakes and picnic areas for notices stating swimmer’s itch may be present
- Before swimming, create a water-proof barrier by applying baby oil, creams containing DEET, Swimmer’s Itch Guard, or similar products on exposed skin to prevent parasite larvae from burrowing into your skin
- Swim away from the shoreline where the parasite that causes Swimmer’s Itch is most likely to be found. If you are unsure about the water, avoid areas with lots of weed growth (there may be more snails and larvae around aquatic plants)
- Use a pier or dock to enter the water to help reduce your exposure to parasites near the shore. Make sure these structures are approved for swimming and do not dive into unknown waters
- Rub your skin with a rough towel as soon as you get out of the water. If water is left to dry on the skin, there is a greater likelihood of developing Swimmer’s Itch.
- Have a shower with clean water as soon as you leave the lake or river. NOTE: Showering will not remove any larvae that have already burrowed into your skin.
The CDC also has some great information about Swimmers Itch!