Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Swim-and-scratch season here

  • Print
Swimmer's itch infections have been confirmed at Winnipeg Beach (above) and Moose Lake Provincial Park.

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS ARCHIVES Enlarge Image

Swimmer's itch infections have been confirmed at Winnipeg Beach (above) and Moose Lake Provincial Park. Photo Store

It's as inevitable as the sun rising on a summer day. Swimmer's itch is back at Manitoba's lakes.

Cases of swimmer's itch have been confirmed in the past week at Winnipeg Beach and Moose Lake Provincial Park.

This occurs when humans choose to swim where animals and plants live.

"It's a natural phenomenon. It happens fairly regularly in a number of Manitoba lakes, so it's really not unusual. It happens every year," said Nicole Armstrong, director of Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship's water science and management branch.

There are swimmer's-itch reports from three to 17 lakes a year in Manitoba.

Advisory signs have been posted at Winnipeg Beach and Moose Lake park and will remain up all summer.

"We can't test for swimmer's itch, so it's impossible to know if it has completely cleared the area, so we find the signs give the public some basic information," Armstrong said.

She said the province's protocol is to post advisory signs when even one case has been confirmed by a medical professional.

Swimmer's itch manifests as an itchy red rash that shows up after swimming in water containing the parasite that causes it.

The parasite is a worm that originates in the intestines of waterfowl and aquatic mammals such as beavers. Its eggs are passed into the water through the host creature's feces.

After a short stay with snails, the eggs hatch into worms that seek out the waterfowl or aquatic mammal host. People get swimmer's itch when these worms, or cercariae, penetrate the skin. The worms die soon after.

Swimmer's itch usually shows up in hot weather, as warm water assists in the parasites' development. It's more common in lakes where there are a lot of aquatic plants, as that's the home of the parasite-carrying snails. For that reason, Armstrong said, it's rarer in Lake Winnipeg.

"We don't typically see swimmer's itch at large Winnipeg beaches where there are not aquatic plants, because snails really like weeds and aquatic plants and they are a critical part of the life cycle (of the parasite). If we don't have snails, we don't have swimmer's itch," she said.

To prevent swimmer's itch, avoid going in the water if it has occurred there.

Rinse off right after being in the water and vigorously towel the water from the skin.

There are showers on many Manitoba beaches, such as Winnipeg Beach and Grand Beach.

ashley.prest@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 10, 2013 B2

History

Updated on Wednesday, July 10, 2013 at 7:35 AM CDT: adds fact box, adds link

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Key of Bart: Fifty Ways To Punt Your Premier

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A young goose   reaches for long strands of grass Friday night near McGillvary Blvd-See Bryksa 30 Day goose challenge- Day 19 - May 23, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • Marc Gallant / Winnipeg Free Press. Local- WINTER FILE. Snowboarder at Stony Mountain Ski Hill. November 14, 2006.

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Are you in favour of the Harper government's new 'family tax cut'?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google