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Front Page » July 29, 2004 » Local News » Health district discusses reports of parasite in Scofield...
Published 3,767 days ago

Health district discusses reports of parasite in Scofield Reservoir


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By MELANIE STEELE
Sun Advocate reporter


Several Carbon County outdoor enthusiasts enjoy a sunny day on the banks of Scofield Reservoir. Area residents need not worry about swimming or wading in the water at Scofield as recent reports of an outbreak of swimmer's Itch in the reservoir have been denied by the Southeastern Utah District Health Department.

The Southeastern Utah Health District indicates recent reports of a parasite in Scofield Reservoir are not true.

Swimmer's itch, also known as cercarial dermatitis, is a skin rash caused by an allergic reaction to infection with certain parasites of birds and mammals, explained Terrie Wright of the local health department.

The microscopic parasites are released from infected snails to swim in fresh and salt water.

The snails can be found in lakes and ponds that are used for swimming and wading, such as Scofield Reservoir, noted Wright.

Incidents of the infection are confirmed annually throughout the world and usually occur in the summer months.

"We've had lakes in our area posted for swimmer's itch in the past. But currently, there are no confirmed cases requiring signs posted on the shoreline," reported Wright.

The allergic reaction causes people to experience tingling, burning or itching of the skin.

Small reddish pimples appear within 12 hours. The pimples may later develop into small blisters, pointed out the local public health department representative.

The itching may last up to a week or more, but the symptom will gradually go away.

Because swimmer's itch is an allergic reaction, only about 30 percent to 40 percent of people will be affected, according to the local public health department.

To reduce the risk of becoming a victim of swimmer's itch, Wright recommended that Carbon County residents:

•Avoid swimming near or wading in marshy areas where snails are commonly found.

•Towel dry or shower immediately after leaving the water.

•Avoid areas where the infection is a known problem or where signs have been posted warning of unsafe water.

Swimmer's itch is caused by an allergic reaction and is not spread from person to person.

Children are frequently more at risk because the youth swim, wade and play in the shallow water more than adults.

"It's important to not scratch. Scratching may cause the rash to become infected," advised Wright. "Over-the-counter remedies such as Calamine lotion or corticosteroid creams can be helpful."

"We also recommend bathing with baking soda or using cool compresses," continued the health department representative

The majority of the confirmed cases involving an allergic reaction to the parasite do not require medical attention.

Well-maintained, chlorinated swimming pools do not pose a risk for swimmer's itch, continued the local public health district representative.

"There are many things to love about the outdoors in Utah," stated Wright. "The weather is perfect for all kinds of activities, and we certainly encourage people to spend time outdoors with their families doing the things they love."

For additional information, Carbon County residents may contact the health department at 637-3671.



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