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 Post subject: CDC defines swimmer itch
PostPosted: Mon Aug 18, 2008 6:16 pm 
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Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2005 9:02 pm
Posts: 90
With all the talk, thought this might be appreciated. I was at Malmo two weeks ago, but Stroh tossed me a towel shortly after I came out of the water. No problem. My only experience with swimmers itch was while working on White Bear in a large shallow, sandy area.

What is swimmer's itch?
Swimmer's itch, also called cercarial dermatitis, appears as a skin rash caused by an allergic reaction to specific parasites found in certain birds and mammals . These microscopic parasites are released from infected snails into fresh and salt water (such as lakes, ponds, and oceans). Rather than finding a host bird or mammal, the parasite instead burrows into the nearby swimmer's skin, causing an allergic reaction and rash. Swimmer's itch is found throughout the world and is more frequent during summer months.

How does water become infested with the parasite?
The adult parasite lives in the blood of infected animals such as ducks, geese, gulls, swans, and certain aquatic mammals such as muskrats and beavers. The parasites produce eggs that are passed in the feces of infected birds or mammals.

If the eggs land in the water, the water becomes contaminated. Eggs hatch, releasing small, free-swimming larvae. These larvae swim in the water in search of a certain species of aquatic snail.

If the larvae find one of these snails, they infect the snail and undergo further development. Infected snails release a different type of larvae ( cercariae , hence the name cercarial dermatitis) into the water. This larval form then swims about searching for a suitable host (bird, muskrat) so they can start the lifecycle over again . Although humans are not suitable hosts, the larvae burrow into the swimmer's skin, and may cause an allergic reaction and rash. Because these larvae cannot develop inside a human, they soon die.

What are the signs and symptoms of swimmer's itch?
Symptoms of swimmer's itch may include: tingling, burning, or itching of the skin, small reddish pimples and small blisters
Within minutes to days after swimming in contaminated water, you may experience tingling, burning, or itching of the skin. Small reddish pimples appear within twelve hours. Pimples may develop into small blisters. Scratching the areas may result in secondary bacterial infections. Itching may last up to a week or more, but will gradually go away.

Because swimmer's itch is caused by an allergic reaction to infection, the more often you swim or wade in contaminated water, the more likely you are to develop more serious symptoms. The greater the number of exposures to contaminated water, the more intense and immediate symptoms of swimmer's itch will be.

Be aware that swimmer's itch is not the only rash that may occur after swimming in fresh and salt water.

Do I need to see my health care provider for treatment?
Most cases of swimmer's itch do not require medical attention. If you have a rash, you may try the following for relief:

Use corticosteroid cream
Apply cool compresses to the affected areas
Bathe in Epson salts or baking soda
Soak in colloidal oatmeal baths, such as Aveeno*
Apply baking soda paste to the rash (made by stirring water into baking soda until it reaches a paste-like consistency)
Use an anti-itch lotion, such as Calamine* lotion
Though difficult, try not to scratch. Scratching may cause the rash to become infected. If itching is severe, your health care provider may suggest prescription-strength lotions or creams to lessen your symptoms.

Can swimmer's itch be spread from person-to-person?
Swimmer's itch is not contagious and cannot be spread from one person to another.

Who is at risk for swimmer's itch?
Anyone who swims or wades in infested water may be at risk. Larvae are more likely to be present in shallow water by the shoreline. Children are most often affected because they tend to swim, wade, and play in the shallow water more than adults. Also, they are less likely to towel dry themselves when leaving the water.

Once an outbreak of swimmer's itch has occurred in water, will the water always be unsafe?
No. Many factors must be present for swimmer's itch to become a problem in water. Since these factors change (sometimes within a swim season), swimmer's itch will not always be a problem. However, there is no way to know how long water may be unsafe. Larvae generally survive for 24 hours once they are released from the snail. However, an infected snail will continue to produce cercariae throughout the remainder of its life. For future snails to become infected, migratory birds or mammals in the area must also be infected so the lifecycle can continue.

Courtesy of: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dpd/parasites ... tm#what_is

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 Post subject: Re: CDC defines swimmer itch
PostPosted: Mon Aug 18, 2008 7:16 pm 
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Joined: Tue Apr 05, 2005 6:02 pm
Posts: 901
Location: Forest Lake
more for your reading pleasure
http://www.stanford.edu/group/parasites ... index.html

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