When I was a kid, I went to a day summer camp on Pushaw Lake. To be honest, I was never a huge fan of summer camp in general. My family had a camp, so spending the day by the lake didn't necessarily seem all that exciting and different to 8-year old me. I wanted to ride bikes with my friends all day. Not learn how to make friendship bracelets.
Generally speaking it wasn't too bad though. There were a lot of things I enjoyed. I loved playing kickball. I loved the occasional field trips we went on. And of course, like most kids my age, I did enjoy swimming quite a bit. It was one of the only fun parts of being there. Until the swimmer's itch came along and ruined everyone's summer.
I remember coming to camp one day, and they announced that we would no longer be able to do any swimming activities until further notice. A camper had come down with the itch, so they shut it all down. I'm not sure if I finished the summer at camp that year or not. What good is summer camp if there's no swimming?!
What's swimmer's itch, you ask? According to the CDC website, it goes kinda like this:
Swimmer’s itch, also called cercarial dermatitis, appears as a skin rash caused by an allergic reaction to certain microscopic parasites that infect some birds and mammals. These parasites are released from infected snails into fresh and salt water (such as lakes, ponds, and oceans).
Humans are not their preferred host, though. The parasites are far more interested in water birds and water mammals. But if we come into contact with them, they will burrow into our own skin and cause one hell of a rash. If you've had poison ivy or browntail moth caterpillar rash, you already know the kind of misery we're talking about.
There are some signs to watch out for. If there's a lot of water fowl near where you like to swim, that could be a bad sign, as they help spread the parasite through their poop. Also, it tends to be more prevalent at warm, shallow lakes. And also, if you see a lot of snails around, that's the big no-no. They're where the parasite starts.
If you do get it, you 'll be miserable for a few days, but no worse so than you're probably already used to from poison ivy and browntails. But still... it's just yet another thing we have to think about and watch out for this summer. All this has me looking forward to winter again. Which will just make me wish it's summer again. Ugh.... We can't win.