Swimmer’s Itch Task Force

A Swimmer’s Itch Task Force formed June 2020. The mission is to reduce the incidences of Swimmer’s Itch (SI) in Douglas Lake through a program that must continue every year. Volunteers would be essential for the program’s success.

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7/14/2020 Swimmer’s Itch:  Next Steps – (from 7/14/2020 eNews)

The Swimmer’s Itch Task Force, chaired by Kim and Ed Grant, submitted its Report describing the occurrence, severity and suspected parasitic sites resulting in swimmer’s itch on Douglas Lake this summer.  The report included background information, previous studies of the problem, options to address the problem, and the experience of other inland lakes with swimmer’s itch problems.  The first recommendation requested DLIA to fund an initial swimmer’s itch assessment of Douglas Lake.

At the DLIA Executive Board meeting on July 9, 2020, the Board approved $1500 to fund a proposal from Swimmer’s Itch (SI) Solutions, LLC to conduct the needs assessment.  Field work on the project will take place in July-August. The study will document the swimmer’s itch lifecycle present on the lake, including presence of the swimmer’s itch parasite and evidence that the Common Merganser is the host associated with the parasite’s lifecycle on the lake.  This will involve collection of snails around the lake and examination of the snails to determine if they carry the swimmer’s itch parasite.  Parasites found in the snails will provide an accurate species assessment of swimmer’s itch parasites in Douglas Lake.  A bird survey will also be conducted to determine how many merganser broods are present on Douglas Lake.

SI Solutions’ report should be submitted in mid-September and the Board will be meeting with the Task Force Chairs to discuss the report, possible next steps, the financial requirements for these next steps and logistics of permitting requirements (from DNR) for relocation of mergansers if that is the appropriate next step.

For now, unfortunately, Douglas Lake residents, their families and guests must continue to use all preventive measures to avoid swimmer’s itch and take advantage of those remedies that provide some relief from the nasty rash.

Submitted by the DLIA President Mary Ellen Sheridan

Links: 7/7/2020 DLIA Swimmer’s Itch Task Force Report

6/24/2020 Swimmers Itch Task Force Seeks Information
(from 6/24/20 eNews)

Summer 2020 is starting off to be a very bad year for swimmers itch.  Some years this irritating and painful rash (from parasite) isn’t much of a problem; other years, it’s prevalent.  2020 is not a good year. A new DLIA Task Force co-chaired by Kim and Ed Grant has been formed to identify and evaluate cost options for mitigating the problem of Swimmers Itch at Douglas Lake.  As a first step, Kim is “fact finding.”
If you or family members/visiting friends, et al. have experienced swimmers itch this summer please report this to email hidden; JavaScript is required. Kim requests that you report the date, approximate lake location where exposure to the parasite might have occurred (e.g. swimming around North Fishtail Bay or playing in shallow water around Silver Strand location X) and severity of rash.

Brief DLIA History of SI:

Swimmer’s Itch has been bothering humans around the world for as long as humans have been around. In 2008 and 2009, DLIA SI Task Force participated in the planning of a hopeful program to reduce the itch. The cost was prohibitive at over $50,000.

The Michigan Swimmer’s Itch Partnership (MSIP) formed in 2014 working with various entities for funding and solutions. In late 2018, a few staff members from the Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council became part of MSIP.

All along DLIA has stayed informed, attending conferences, and sharing resources about treatment with the Lake community. In recent years, some Michigan lakes have seen SI incidences reduced through an annual merganser relocation program.

A new DLIA Task Force was formed in June 2020 with hopes of reducing the incidences of SI on DL by 2022. If the proposed program is a fit for Douglas Lake and the DLIA Executive Board approves the funding, annual volunteers will be essential for success. It is also important to recognize that Swimmer’s Itch is not attributable solely to mergansers.  Other waterfowl and even mammals can be conduits for snails which host the parasite that causes Swimmer’s Itch.

Posted on August 31st, 2020 in Events, Issues.