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.

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 the 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.

Our Publications

Use of qPCR-Based Cercariometry to Assess Swimmer’s Itch in Recreational Lakes

Species-specific qPCR assays allow for high-resolution population assessment of four species avian schistosome that cause swimmer’s itch in recreational lakes

Swimmer’s itch in Canada: a look at the past and a survey of the present to plan for the future

Evaluation of targeted copper sulfate (CuSO4) application for controlling swimmer’s itch at a freshwater recreation site in Michigan

A fine‐scale phylogenetic assessment of digenean trematodes in central Alberta reveals we have yet to uncover their total diversity

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