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Increased reports of Swimmer’s Itch at Surveyors Lake

A pleasant day at the lake may force some swimmers to deal with an itchy rash after taking a dip in Surveyors Lake in Kikomun Creek Provincial Park.

Increased reports of Swimmer’s Itch have been coming from people swimming in the lake in recent weeks

According to BC Parks, Swimmer’s Itch is a temporary, itchy rash caused by small, worm-like parasites called schistosomes. Infestations of these parasites are not uncommon in several East Kootenay lakes during the summer.

Swimmer’s Itch is caused when the parasites attempt to enter a person’s bloodstream, as the schistosomes search for a host. The larvae are killed by the human immune system shortly after entering the skin.

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“They are often in the shallow water of freshwater lakes,” said Dr. Siu-Kae Yeong, resident public health doctor with Interior Health. “After you swim, it’s good if you can dry off and take a shower as soon as possible. That will let you clear off any of them (schistosomes) and prevent any further reaction.”

Dr. Yeong said the parasites can also be avoided by entering the water at a deeper point, such as a dock.

Symptoms include a tingling sensation shortly after coming out of the water, red spots and eventual itching where the parasites enter the body.

“There are few ways you can reduce itchiness: one is to try calamine lotion or taking a bath with baking soda or oatmeal,” said Yeong. “Some people take antihistamines to help them. However, if it’s for children, then we would advise you to check with your family doctor.”

Signs have been placed around the day-use area in the park near Surveyors Lake to notify visitors of the presence of schistosomes in the water.

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