SPIRIT LAKE – Swimmer’s itch is starting to make its presence known at Iowa’s Great Lakes.
The condition is caused by flatworms, a parasite. The flatworm eggs are transferred to water by bird droppings. The eggs hatch and infect snails, from which the free swimming form of the flatworm larvae emerges. In the absence of a suitable host such as a bird, the parasite will attempt to penetrate the skin of humans, and quickly dies after that, causing an allergic reaction below the skin resulting in welts and itching.
There are few simple steps to help prevent swimmers itch, including reducing the amount of time in the water, avoiding beaches being pounded by waves and to quickly drying off when getting out of the lake.
The good news is that parasitic little pest that can cause welts and itching, only lasts a few weeks and is not life-threatening.
Officials say the symptoms generally disappear within a few days. An antihistamine along with calamine lotion can be used to treat the affected areas.
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