SWIMMERS ITCH

CO-CHAIRS | RICK DALSTROM & LEN KLEIN

A skin irritation, commonly known as swimmers itch, may affect people, to varying degrees, after swimming in certain Michigan lakes. In an attempt to better understand and try to control swimmers itch, a partnership, the Michigan Swimmers Itch Partnership or MISIP, has been formed by many area lake associations, including Long Lake. MISIP is funded through the State of Michigan. MISIP funding is available to lake associations to help defray the cost of the assessment, prevention, and the control of swimmers itch on their respective lakes. Last year the Long Lake Association (LLA) with assistance from Long Lake Foundation hired a consulting firm, Freshwater Solutions (FWS), to conduct research on our behalf to better understand our specific situation. Freshwater Solutions has had decades of experience in researching and controlling swimmers itch.

Comprehensive Report 2018
Swimmers Itch August 2018

What Causes Swimmers Itch

Swimmers itch is developed in people when microscopic parasitic larvae burrow into human skin, causing a red, itchy rash. The larvae then quickly die, since humans are not suitable hosts. These larvae are known as schistosomes and have a complex relationship with its hosts. Different species of schistosomes are linked to certain bird or mammal hosts as well as specific snail species.

1) LLA contracted FWS to do an Assessment of Long/Mickey Lake in the summer of 2018. Samples were taken from 10 distributed sites for analysis of types of schistosomes and snails prevalent to those sites. Also, a physical count of the types and quantities of potential host birds was performed.

2) It appears mallard ducks maybe the bird host most typical to the Long Lake schistosomes. As mallard ducks are a designated game bird, there are limitations as to what we can do with them.

3) Greatest quantities of schistosomes occur during the morning hours and decrease throughout the day.

4) Concentrations of schistosomes diminish as you move into deeper water.

5) The Long Lake Association board has authorized additional sampling and testing this year in areas that new incidents of swimmers itch are reported.

Many questions remain as to a comprehensive strategy that would completely eradicate swimmers itch from our lake. It is highly unlikely that it can ever be completely eliminated. The good news is solid research and analysis is allowing us to make better-informed decisions and to maintain the sterling quality of our most precious lake. The reported incidents of persons contracting swimmers itch appear to be decreasing, although this is somewhat anecdotal and not based on hard numbers. We will be collecting information again this year on the occurrence, location, and time of swimmers itch infections.

What we have accomplished so far

LLA invested roughly $13K in 2018 to perform an assessment and research on our lake.

Also, training was provided to allow for our own water sampling to test for new incidents of SI as they occur in 2019.

Samples are sent to a third party consultant for analysis of SI source.

We will continue to monitor occurrences of SI on our lake and take appropriate actions, within the scope of our LLA budget.

Please notify your Board if you or any family/friends contact SI while swimming in Long Lake. Notification can happen by going to our new website at longlakeassociation.com or calling Rick Dahlstrom at 248-568-4263.

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