Legionnaires’ Outbreaks Could Increase Urgent Care Visits This Summer

June 20, 2016

Most of us think of winter as the time of year when we’re mostly likely to get sick, but summertime and hot temperatures bring their own risks of illness. Northern Michigan residents are becoming more aware of the dangers of summer sickness and how to protect themselves.tedavi

While Northern Michigan is known for lakes that both residents and visitors alike enjoy, a microscopic parasite that causes so-called “swimmer’s itch” should also be on everyone’s radar this season.

Record Eagle reports that the parasite only makes an appearance at a few small inland lakes within the Northern Michigan area, but its life cycle involves waterfowl, snails, and brackish water.

Those who choose to enjoy water activities in one of the many lakes this season are advised to thoroughly towel off immediately after coming out of the water. This will help remove larvae from the skin’s surface. In addition, experts advise that swimmers take a hot, soapy shower afterward to wash off any small parasites before they have the opportunity to burrow into the skin.

“Sometimes swimmer’s itch will happen,” said Karen Paulosky, RN, clinic manager at Munson Urgent Care. “I think people get kind of freaked out about it.”

Humans are not a suitable host for the parasite and the itchy rash will eventually disappear. The itching can be relieved with an over-the-counter topical medication.

While swimmer’s itch can be cured by over-the-counter drugs and may not require medical attention, there are other summer dangers that do need medical attention from an urgent care facility. Most centers have office hours until 7:00 pm or later on weeknights.

Of those urgent care visits, this summer, cases of Legionnaires’ disease are expected to increase. According to Courant, around 5,000 Americans were diagnosed with the disease last year alone, particularly in the Flint, MI and New York City areas.

Legionnaires’ disease is caused by the inhalation of small droplets of water contaminated with the bacteria Legionella. The most common sources of the bacteria are showers, cooling towers, and hot tubs. It can, however, be killed by disinfectants, such as chlorine.

“People are unnecessarily and avoidably getting sick and dying from preventable infections,” said Tom Frieden, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

So while jumping in the lake may seem like a great way to cool off this summer, it’s important to take precautions, too.

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