Swimmer's itch plaguing bathers 

Mother asks municipality for showers at parks

At least one Whistler family won’t be returning to local lakes this summer.

Clare Turner said the chance of her two kids catching swimmer’s itch for a third time this summer isn’t worth the risk of a day at the lake.

"It’s too uncomfortable for the children and as a parent it’s just not worth putting them through that," she said.

"You’re dealing with night after night after night of tormented children."

Seven-year-old Kayley and five-year-old Matthew Turner both got the telltale itchy red marks after swimming in Alta Lake, the first time at Lakeside Park and the second time at Rainbow Park. The second time was the worst and for a week afterwards the children were covered in the rash.

Turner has now asked the municipality to look into installing outdoor showers at the parks most used by families.

"From what I understand it will definitely reduce the risk of getting it," she said. "I would return to the beaches if they had working showers there."

Two weeks ago the municipality installed temporary hoses at Rainbow, Lakeside, and Wayside parks to help get the swimmer’s itch parasite off the skin.

Information Officer Diana Waltmann said they also are investigating the possibility of installing outdoor showers.

The region’s medical health officer, Dr. Paul Martiquet, said showers are one way to prevent swimmer’s itch.

"That’s another great idea," he said. "Showering off vigourously will also help. It just gets the parasite off your skin."

Martiquet also recommended wiping off with a towel vigourously after swimming and trying to swim in deeper waters where the parasites don’t flourish.

Swimmer’s itch is caused when parasites are released from infected snails and instead of finding a host bird or mammal (in Whistler’s case the merganser), they burrow into a swimmer’s skin when it starts to dry.

This is why it’s critical to wash or towel off immediately after coming out of the water.

The municipality has posted an information notice on its website stating swimmer’s itch is in three Whistler lakes – Alta, Alpha and Lost Lakes.

Staff is also working on getting a plan in place to minimize the occurrences of swimmer’s itch in the resort.


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