Iowa DNR warning about swimmer's itch

posted by Sue Danielson -

SPIRIT LAKE, Iowa-   There have been a number of complaints this year about swimmer's itch  from people who've been swimming in Iowa lakes.   

Jim Hawkins of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources' Spirit Lake office says the rash is caused by a microscopic flatworm in the water, a parasite that's hoping to hitch a ride on ducks or birds, but sometimes finds people instead.   

He says the parasite tries to enter skin, but body defenses kick-in and sometimes there's an allergic reaction to the organism.

He reminds swimmers to rinse-off or towel-off to reduce exposure.  He says water-proof sunscreen can help too.  

 If you get it, he says  over-the-counter, itch relief products can help ease the itching with a few days to a week, usually the condition can be managed without seeking medical attention.

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