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Swimmer's Itch

What is swimmer’s itch (also called cercarial dermatitis)?

Is an allergic reaction that looks like a skin rash caused by certain microscopic parasites.  These parasites are released from snails into fresh and salt water (such as lakes, ponds, and oceans). The parasite prefers to live inside specific birds or mammals, such as a duck or snail.  But if the parasite comes into contact with a swimmer, it digs into the skin which causes the allergic reaction and rash. 

How does water become infested with the parasite?

Adult microscopic parasites live in the blood of animals such as ducks, geese, gulls, swans, and certain mammals such as muskrats and raccoons.

1. The parasites make eggs that are passed in the feces of the birds or mammals.

2. If the eggs land in or are washed into the water, the eggs hatch, releasing small, free-swimming microscopic larvae.

3. These larvae swim in the water in search of a certain type of aquatic snail.If the larvae find one of these snails, they infect the snail.  There they multiply and undergo further development.

4.  Infected snails release a different type of microscopic larvae (or cercariae) into the water. This larval form then swims about looking for a suitable host (bird, muskrat) to continue the lifecycle.

5.  Although people are not the right hosts for these microscopic larvae, they will still dig into the swimmer’s skin.  This causes an allergic reaction and rash. Because these larvae cannot develop inside a person, they soon die. 

What are the signs and symptoms of swimmer’s itch?

  • Tingling, burning, or itching of the skin – within minutes to days after swimming.
  • Small reddish pimples – within 12 hours.
  • Small blisters – may develop.

Scratching the areas may result in secondary bacterial infections. Itching may last up to a week or more, but will gradually go away.

 Do I need to see my health care provider for treatment?

Most cases of swimmer’s itch do not need medical attention. If you have a rash, you may try the following for relief:

  • Use corticosteroid cream.
  • Apply cool compresses to the rash.  
  • Bathe in Epsom salts or baking soda.
  • Soak in colloidal oatmeal baths.
  • 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.

Try very hard 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?

You cannot get swimmer’s itch from another person.

Who is at risk for swimmer’s itch?

  • Anyone who swims or wades in water where there is swimmers itch.  Larvae are more likely to be in shallow water by the shoreline.
  • Children, who tend to swim, wade, and play in the shallow water.  They are also less likely to towel dry themselves when leaving the water.

What can be done to prevent swimmer’s itch?

  • Do not swim in areas where swimmer’s itch is a known problem or where signs have been posted.      
  • Do not swim near or wade in marshy areas where snails are commonly found.
  • Towel dry or shower right after leaving the water.
  • Do not attract birds (e.g., by feeding them) to areas where people are swimming.

 

Parents Who Host, Lose the Most

There’s no immunity when alcohol is served to an underage drinker. It’s not worth it. 

Being a cool parent could cost you…

Your house, car, boat, and your retirement savings

Purchase, provide, or pour alcohol for underage drinkers and the people they injure can sue you.  And, since your homeowners insurance doesn’t cover illegal activity – the risk all falls on you!

Ideas for Alcohol-Free Parties

  • Host a themed party.  Have teens dress up in costumes.  Give a prize to the best or most unique costume.
  • Have a food-tasting party.  Serve exotic types of food or foods that would go with the dance theme. 
  • Hold a sports or game tournament.  Teens can challenge one another to play basketball, cards, dance/music/singing video games, or other games.

No matter what you plan with your teen, make sure you are there to chaperone.

 

June is National Safety Month

More than 75% of all unintentional injuries happen in our homes and communities.

 For more information, visit http://www.nsc.org/nsm 

June is Men's Health Month

Eat Healthy. Start by taking small steps like saying no to super-sizing and yes to a healthy breakfast. Eat many different types of foods to get all the vitamins and minerals you need. Add at least one fruit and vegetable to every meal.

Get Moving. Play with your kids or grandkids.  Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Do yard work. Play a sport. Keep comfortable walking shoes handy at work and in the car. Most importantly, choose activities that you enjoy to stay motivated.

Make Prevention a Priority. Many health conditions can be detected early with regular checkups from your healthcare provider.  Regular screenings may include blood pressure, cholesteral, glucose, prostate health and more.

For more information, click here.

Zika virus

Zika virus is a virus that most commonly comes from the bite of a certain type of mosquito.  It has been seen in high numbers in most of the Caribbean and the northeastern parts of South America.There isn't any known spread of the Zika virus due to mosquitos in the continental United States.

The virus is spread to people through mosquito bites. The most common symptoms or signs of Zika virus disease are:

  • Fever,
  • Rash,
  • Joint pain, and
  • Conjunctivitis (red eyes).

Only about 20% of people with Zika virus feel sick, so they may not know they have the virus in their body. If a person gets sick, it will happen anywhere from a few days to a week after coming into contact with the virus. Although Zika virus may not be harmful to the person who gets ill, it may have serious side effects on the developing baby, if a woman who is pregnant is infected with the Zika virus.

At this time, the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention (CDC) has not confirmed the link between Zika virus and birth defects, but they have noted there is a strong chance that Zika virus is the cause of the high number of recent birth defects seen in areas where Zika virus is common. The CDC is continuing to study Zika virus.

In addition to spreading through the bite of an infected mosquito, Zika virus is also spread through sexual contact. For men that have traveled to areas where Zika virus is common, they should avoid sexual contact with any pregnant partners or use a condom with any sexual contact until their partner is no longer pregnant. Women traveling to areas where Zika virus is present are encouraged to avoid becoming pregnant until after travel. If women are currently pregnant, they should consider not traveling to these areas until no longer pregnant.

If you have traveled to an area that has Zika virus in the past 2 weeks and feel ill, or you traveled while pregnant, contact your medical provider for follow up. For more information:

"If You See Something, Say Something™"

"If You See Something, Say Something™" is a national campaign to prevent crimes of terrorism.  Not only does the campaign raise awareness on possible crimes related to terrorism, it stresses the importance of reporting suspicious activites to law enforcement.

Informed, alert communities play a critical role in keeping our nation safe.  To report suspicious activity, contact your local law enforcement agency. Describe with as many details as you can what you saw and include:

  • Who or what you saw;
  • When you saw it;
  • Where it occurred; and
  • Why it's suspicious.

If there is an emergency, call 9–1–1.  For more information on the campaign visit: http://www.dhs.gov/see-something-say-something