‘Swimmer’s itch’ warning for water off Devonshire Beach

Katrina Owens
Lakeside Leader

In case you haven’t found out yourself, there is an active warning for schistosome dermatitis (swimmer’s itch) at Devonshire Beach.
According to swimmersitch.ca (an organization in partnership with Alberta Health Services), “Swimmer’s itch is the common name for a rash you can develop after swimming in many lakes around the world. The itch is caused by free-swimming larvae of parasites, called schistosomes, accidentally penetrating your skin while you are in the water.”
How does this affect you? In a nutshell, the parasite causes an allergic reaction to happen which forms a rash that can last for a couple weeks.
Swimmersitch.ca says, “In Alberta, swimmer’s itch is common, but we know very little about where it will occur and how many people are affected. To find out where it will occur, we first need to understand what aquatic snails and birds are acting as hosts for schistosomes, as these two animals are required for schistosome development.”
There are ways to help fight the itch: avoid spending long periods of time in the water, shower and scrub your skin immediately after getting out of the water, don’t feed birds in areas where people swim, and avoid swimming in areas with active swimmer’s itch health advisories.
For more information, visit http://swimmersitch.ca or http://www.albertaparks.ca/parks/northwest/lesser-slave-lake-pp/advisories.

 

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