Swimmer’s itch recurring problem in Michigan lakes
GERRISH TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) – Swimmer’s itch is a painful problem that many northern Michigan visitors can’t duck.
Flatworms that spend part of their lives in the bodies of migratory ducks can cause painful rashes lasting several weeks.
It’s been around for years but is getting particular attention at northern Michigan’s 10,000-acre Higgins Lake in Roscommon County, west of Roscommon. The lake is popular with ducks and people, and snails that host the flatworms are common in shallower sections.
“My daughters were in the water and I was watching them,” said Jamie Magnan, 33, of Macomb County’s Harrison Township in suburban Detroit. She, 3-year-old Bella and 6-year-old Addison were visiting her parents.
“When they came out of the water, they were itching really badly, so I threw them in the tub and used a loofah because I heard that will take off some of the worms.”
But the girls developed itchy, red welts that kept them up for two nights.
Gerrish Township supervisor Frank Homola is well aware of the issue.
“I can’t say the problem is worse this year because it’s still early,” he told The Detroit News (http://bit.ly/1qHrib3 ). “But I can say we’re taking the problem seriously and it is our No. 1 priority in the summer months.”
Homola, 63, serves on a regional swimmer’s itch task force and said he’s been a victim of swimmer’s itch.
“It’s like a room full of mosquitoes biting you all at the same time,” he said. “It impacts our whole economy because people will go somewhere else, like Ohio or Indiana.”