Swimmer’s itch warning in Lacey’s Long Lake Park, and Clear Lake southwest of Yelm

Possible parasites in local lakes


County health officials are warning local lake goers of possibly catching swimmer’s itch.

Thurston County Public Health and Social Services (PHSS) released a statement on June 9 about parasites that cause swimmer’s itch in Long and Clear Lakes.

“Multiple reports were received from individuals who swam at Long Lake and appear to have swimmer’s itch. PHSS reported. “Two individuals who live on Clear Lake reported they have swimmer’s itch.”

Medically called cercarial dermatitis, PHSS defined swimmer’s itch as a skin rash caused by an allergic reaction to certain microscopic parasites that infect both mammals and birds. The parasites come from infected snails of both freshwater and saltwater, and the parasites burrow into a person’s skin, which causes an allergic reaction that exhibits as a rash with tingling, burning, or itching of the skin.

“The parasite does not have long-term effects for those who encounter it,” PHSS reassured. The parasites can be found worldwide and are more commonly active in summer months. And is not known to have a long-term effect on those who have a reaction.

PHSS advised doing the following to minimize the possibility of contacting swimmer’s itch:

  • Choose not to swim in areas where swimmer’s itch is a known problem or where signs have been posted warning of unsafe water.
  • Choose not to swim near or wade in marshy areas where snails are commonly found.
  • Towel dry or shower immediately after leaving the water.
  • Apply water-proof sunscreen to your body before entering the water to both protect you from the sun and reduce the ability of the parasite to attach to the skin.
  • Do not attract birds (e.g., by feeding them) to areas where people are swimming.  


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