Swimmer's itch won't ruin the fun for many

Officials say parasite comes and goes; many visitors not worried

Cascade Lakes reports swimmer's itch

BEND, Ore. - Summer has arrived in Central Oregon, but something in the water is putting a damper on the fun. A parasite that is causing swimmer's itch is in the water. 

"We just learned about it but it's a little frightening," said Lauren Laporto who is visiting the lakes with friends and family.

Swimmer's itch looks like a rash that usually goes away in about a week.

"Usually the first symptom of swimmer's itch is when you get out of the water and start to itch," Dr. Larry Weber of the Bend Dermatology Clinic said Wednesday.

Health officials are not worried. In fact, they say this is not a serious health concern, but rather a nuisance. 

They also say swimmer's itch is no different then getting mosquito bites in the woods.

"Swimmer's itch is something that can occur any time in the warmer months of the year, especially in more stagnant waters," said Thomas Kuhn of the Deschutes County Health Department. "You never know where it's going to pop up."

Officials say they are not testing the waters, because this is not a health concern -- and it is very difficult to test for, as the parasites, often transported by birds, come and go quickly.

Despite the uncertainty, many visitors Wednesday at Twin Lake Resort said they feel safe.

"No it didn't bother me," said Sandra Hamar, visiting with her family from La Pine. "I've been swimming and using these waters for many years, and I feel very comfortable in it, and don't think that there is any issue."

"I'm a little scared but it's just itches and bumps," said 11-year old Nikoa Pence.

What do you do to prevent swimmer's itch? Dry off immediately when you get out of the water and rinse off. 

If you do get swimmer's itch, don't scratch the bumps, because they might get infected.

"Also take a little rubbing alcohol, wipe your skin down with the alcohol, because that can kill the larva from the swimmer's itch more rapidly," said Weber.

Even if you have been in the water with the parasite, you might not get swimmer's itch. It varies from person to person.

For some, the risk of a few itchy bumps is worth it.

"As soon as this is done, I'm going to go swimming," said Nikoa.

NewsChannel 21 also spoke Wednesday with the owner at Twin Lake Resort, who said that he alerted officials about a case of swimmer's itch about two weeks ago. He hadn't heard about any more cases until the Fourth of July weekend. 

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