Swimmer's Itch

Questions on general information and things that do not fit into any other categories.

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HikerGal
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Swimmer's Itch

Post by HikerGal » Mon Feb 22, 2016 7:36 pm

Last summer, early August, my son and I got swimmer's itch after swimming in Todd Harbor. I have been in the water in and around Isle Royale many times and have never had that experience. It is not one I want to experience again either! Has anyone else gotten swimmer's itch there? Just want to find out how common getting it on/around Isle Royale is.


johnhens
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Re: Swimmer's Itch

Post by johnhens » Mon Feb 22, 2016 8:10 pm

HikerGal wrote:Last summer, early August, my son and I got swimmer's itch after swimming in Todd Harbor. I have been in the water in and around Isle Royale many times and have never had that experience. It is not one I want to experience again either! Has anyone else gotten swimmer's itch there? Just want to find out how common getting it on/around Isle Royale is.
Have not gotten it after sswimming in August or September at various Superior and inland lakes locations.


Midwest Ed
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Re: Swimmer's Itch

Post by Midwest Ed » Mon Feb 22, 2016 9:51 pm

I'd never heard of anyone getting it from Lake Superior waters but a little research just now indicates it's not unheard of in sandy or muddy shallows, not around Isle Royale per se but all of the Great Lake areas. I'm sure it was very unpleasant but fortunately there are no long term dangers from the larvae mistaking you for a duck as the larvae soon dies but of course causes a nasty rash as they burrow. I've read that if you dry off immediately after exiting the water the risk can be minimized. Also a water proof sunscreen can help as a barrier.

This State of Michigan report said that only 1% of Michigan's lakes seem affected but that larger recreational lakes are more affected. Another thing I just read was that the risks are elevated after sustained shore-ward winds. These two things together makes sense that larger lakes would allow a larger accumulation of the larvae during key times of shore-ward winds. It sounds like it's more a case of just being at the wrong place at the right time. I would think deeper waters or areas away from shore would be substantially safer.

Swimmers Itch in Michigan
8 trips, 1975 x 2, 1976 x 2, 1978, 1985, 2000, 2013

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fonixmunkee
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Re: Swimmer's Itch

Post by fonixmunkee » Sat Feb 27, 2016 2:55 am

I didn't know the bugs that cause swimmer's itch can even survive in the ice-cold waters of Lake Superior :D

Happy to report that I've never had swimmer's itch from Isle Royale or Lake Superior (knock on wood). I spend a lot of time in Lake Superior and its connected waters, too, since I live in the Duluth/Superior area. Sounds like you were in the unfortunate minority that got the itch. Please don't be dissuaded from returning to Isle Royale because of it.
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Re: Swimmer's Itch

Post by tree rattt » Sun Mar 13, 2016 1:41 pm

I have had it twice in Lake Superior.The first time was in the Apostle Islands.I was snorkeling in the shallows looking at rocks.I had it head to toe! I had no Idea what it even was! I almost went insane! The second time was out on Grand Island, in cobble cove! I was lubed up with sunscreen....it REALLY helps! Also when you feel the picking sensations starting get out dry off .....hand sanitizer seems to kill it quick! Rub it all over! It also helps!

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HikerGal
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Re: Swimmer's Itch

Post by HikerGal » Sun Mar 13, 2016 7:21 pm

Thanks so much for the information. We also did not know what was happening and as luck would have it there was a Ranger also at Todd Harbor and he knew what it was but noted he had not heard of anyone else getting it from the water. We also had it head to toe and it very quickly made us think about an overnight hike to Rock Harbor for something - anything - to help. My daughter had also gone in the water but she came out and dried off; my son and I "air dried." In the future I will indeed keep the sunscreen and hand sanitizer option in mind, in addition to drying off.

It would take ALOT more than swimmer's itch to dissuade me from going back to Isle Royale. In addition to the absolute beauty of the island - there are no ticks, poison ivy or bears!


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Re: Swimmer's Itch

Post by Stoker » Tue Sep 06, 2016 1:07 pm

Just curious - how did you decide it was swimmers itch and not chiggers? I had the same experience after wading in Todd Harbor last weekend, and now I'm covered in what looks like chigger bites. Another couple got super itchy the next day, but others around us had no issues. The other couple blamed chiggers. I was afraid to go back in the water in case the water had caused it, and I didn't have any issues on the second day when I stayed on shore, but I also covered up and made sure not to touch the grass on the shoreline. I guess it doesn't really matter what caused it, but my curiosity is getting the best of me.


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Re: Swimmer's Itch

Post by Midwest Ed » Tue Sep 06, 2016 11:31 pm

Looking at sample images of both bites on line (Google images) they look quite similar. You're probably correct at this point that it most likely doesn't matter although techniques for future prevention are indeed different. Sorry to hear about your dilemma.
8 trips, 1975 x 2, 1976 x 2, 1978, 1985, 2000, 2013


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HikerGal
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Re: Swimmer's Itch

Post by HikerGal » Wed Sep 07, 2016 9:27 am

The Park Ranger said it was swimmer's itch and when I did some research I was positive it was. It came on very quickly after we got out of the water and air dried. My daughter, who had also gone in the same water, towel dried and she got very very few bites. It was a very miserable experience. Not sure I'd go in Todd Harbor again (especially after hearing someone else got it there) and risk it - or perhaps I'd go in at the dock.

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