Regular monitoring shows that the water quality is excellent at Llanishen Reservoir. However, a naturally-occurring microscopic worm has been found in the reservoir and it may cause a condition known as ‘swimmer’s itch’.
What is swimmer’s itch?
Swimmer’s itch, also called cercarial dermatitis, appears as a mild skin irritation or rash caused by an allergic reaction to certain microscopic worms that infect some birds and mammals. These worms are released from infected snails into fresh and salt water (such as lakes, ponds, and oceans). Swimmer’s itch is found throughout the world and is more frequent during summer months.
To reduce the risk of swimmer’s itch
The swim course & launch point have been moved away from the shallows and into colder, deeper water.
For open water swimming sessions and activities where there is a high risk of immersion such as stand-up paddleboard hire, users are required to take the following precautions:
— wear full length wetsuits and swim caps
— cover any cuts and grazes with waterproof plasters
— clean any wounds as soon as possible after leaving the water
— try not to swallow the water
— take a warm shower with soap immediately after exiting the water, and rigorously towel dry
What are the signs and symptoms of swimmer’s itch?
Some people are more susceptible than others to getting affected. A little bit like mosquitoes who seem to go after certain people. Symptoms can include:
— tingling, burning, or itching of the skin
— small reddish pimples or small blisters
Because swimmer’s itch is caused by an allergic reaction, if you are repeatedly exposed to the worm, you may get more severe symptoms.
Although uncomfortable, symptoms generally only last a few days, but they can last longer. You can’t spread the rash to other people, and it doesn’t need treatment. If you have swimmer’s itch, it is important that you don’t scratch the rash – scratching may cause the rash to get infected. You may find it helpful to try over the counter treatments to help relieve/reduce any itch symptoms you have – speak to your pharmacist or another health professional if you need advice.
Watersports activities are undertaken entirely at participant’s risk.
It is important to remember that swimmer’s itch is not the only thing that can give you a rash or make you feel unwell after being in contact with open water. See a health professional for advice if you feel unwell after contact with open water or if you have symptoms that are unexplained or getting worse.
For further information about Swimmer’s Itch at Lisvane & Llanishen Reservoirs, read our statement here.