The key message… if you feed the ducks they stick around the lake, they eat the snails, poop out parasites, and you get Swimmers Itch. So PLEASE DO NOT FEED THE DUCKS!
Swimmer’s itch, also called cercarial dermatitis, appears as a skin rash caused by an allergic reaction to certain parasites that infect some birds and mammals. These microscopic parasites are released from infected snails into fresh and salt water (such as lakes, ponds, and oceans). While the parasite’s preferred host is the specific bird or mammal, if the parasite comes into contact with a swimmer, it burrows into the skin causing an allergic reaction and rash. Most cases of swimmer’s itch do not require medical attention, but the rash can be painful. [Click here for more from the CDC]
On Watchic Lake we have an abundance of Chinese Mystery Snails. Ducks eat the snails, and as the diagram below shows, excrete the parasites found in the snails. Ducks tend to work in shallow areas of the lake, which is where we often swim. We’ll spare you the disturbing images of swimmer itch, but Google “cercarial dermatitis symptoms” and check images… its pretty gross.
So… PLEASE DO NOT FEED THE DUCKS