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Swimming season is upon us and the river is calling out to swimming enthusiasts around the region. The Citizen reported on two women who picked up parasites from the Ottawa River recently, and I thought it important to dispel any fear that article may have created.
The women are suffering from a short-term immune reaction commonly known as “swimmer’s itch.” The parasites that cause swimmer’s itch use both snails and waterfowl as hosts in their life cycles. When humans become infected, they experience raised papules that look like mosquito bites and can become intensely itchy.
Ottawa Riverkeeper has been fielding calls from concerned swimmers and we want folks to know the parasite poses no health risk to swimmers. I grew up on a lake with swimmer’s itch and now I suffer when my young children break out with the itchy spots. A little calamine lotion can go a long way to stop the itching.
For more information about swimmer’s itch and other river-related issues, please join Ottawa Riverkeeper at our annual meeting taking place tonight at 7:30 at the Ron Kolbus Centre in Britannia Park.