question about parasites and other health hazards in the water...
mizugori - 4/16/2012 10:26 AM
Category: New Diver Q&A
Replies: 7

I was reading about someone diving in the rivers of South Carolina recently and I suddenly remembered a trip my family took to North Carolina when I was a kid. At one point we went to a beach and there were signs warning of "swimmer’s itch" which is apparently a kind of parasite that burrows under your skin!! Amazingly, people were still swimming in the water. This was a number of years ago so I don’t recall whether it was a lake or part of the ocean.

My main question is, are there lots of places like this in the US where you need to be concerned about parasites or other health hazards in the water? I am really starting to get into diving and will likely travel a lot, I’m curious if this is something people have encountered.
DIVERHERB - 4/16/2012 5:49 PM
As far as salt water is concerned I have never heard of anyone having any issues with parasites. Fresh water that has little flow like small lakes can have dangerous parasites. These enter your system through your sinus’s and can be very dangerous. We have seen them in some of the small lakes in Florida. If I remember correctly the water temp. has to be pretty high for them to be a concern. I have read of several cases in the past couple of years but if I remember correctly all around August.
LatitudeAdjustment - 4/17/2012 3:35 AM
Swimmers itch is usually from jellyfish larva, can be an issue in FL and the carib certain times of the year but sunscreen usually helps protect you, just remember to put it all over, not just where the sun shines! Your LDS also sells a protection cream.

Some places like the Chesapeak Bay have a bigger jellyfish problem and I got nailed on the lips doing a giantstride into a NJ inlet once, it seemed like the top 10" of water were solid jellyfish.

Real parasites are out there, a freind died of a parasite he picked up in Egypt but that may have been in not so fresh water during a baptisim.
DIVERHERB - 4/17/2012 7:09 AM
In the month of August and into Sept. we usually wear a light skin because of the "hydoids" and jellie’s that come along with the warm water here in the Gulf. They usually don’t burn you bad just enough to make you itch a little. But they are not considered parasites and will cause no harmful effects unless you tangle with a large one like you see on the Cheasapeak.
gand973 - 5/02/2012 3:41 PM
Balmorhea State Park in Texas have just recently drained the spring-fed pool in drying to deal with a recent outbreak of "swimmer’s itch". Currently, they have yet to find a source. They toss staff volunteers in the water to test if the problem is still present. So far, it is still there.
jayman035 - 6/08/2012 8:19 PM
i have got sea lice in the past, which is actually the small barbs from blue bottles, gives you like a red rash, nothing some white vinegar wont fix, as for fresh water there could be anything living in any body of water. i dive the larger cleaner lakes, and try to avoid anything that looks questionable. and i always put the ear drops in my ears after a dive. it think its alcohol, all dive shops around lakes will have it in stock, it also dries your ear canal.