Swimmer’s Itch Study

The underlying research that inspired the design and implementation of this website is based on understanding which swimmer’s itch causing trematode species are present in Alberta, and what environmental features dictate when and where transmission is a risk to people.  Our current study involves a field survey of the snail and trematode species present across several lakes/ponds in Alberta used for recreational purposes, including Wabamun Lake, Isle Lake, Pigeon Lake, Gull Lake, and Buffalo Lake, as well as some municipal parks in Edmonton. Another aspect of this study is utilizing the survey on this website as a tool to help us connect with people to determine other places in Alberta and across Canada where swimmer’s itch is occurring. We would also like to gain a better understanding of how swimmer’s itch impacts personal enjoyment at recreational lakes in Alberta. Overall, we hope to gain enough information to predict times of peak transmission at various high-use recreational lakes and to provide lake users with a risk estimate over the entire swimming season.


Other Studies We Are Conducting:


  • Characterizing immune molecules that are important for snail resistance to trematode infection.

  • Detecting helminth worm eggs in waste water.

  • Designing sensitive point-of-care diagnostic tools for detecting schistosome infection in people.

  • Utilizing sensitive molecular tools in the field to understand true transmission risk of schistosomiasis by looking at infection prevalence in snails.


The Team

The Swimmer’s Itch Team is composed of the members of Dr. Patrick Hanington’s lab at the University of Alberta in the School of Public Health. The research focus of the Hanington lab is to gain a better understanding of the immunological and environmental dynamics involved in transmission of trematode parasites to humans by their intermediate snail hosts. Having a better understanding of transmission dynamics will help us in impacting the design of future prevention strategies and overall improving human health.

For more information, click here