- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

July 28—After recent reports of children developing skin infections after swimming in Lewis Smith Lake, medical experts advise swimmers bathe after taking a dip in the lake and any other natural body of water.

Over the weekend, Birmingham station WIAT 42 reported a 4-year-old boy broke out in sores after swimming in Smith Lake. The child’s mother reported her son’s pediatrician diagnosed the boy with a staph infection stemming from swimming in Smith Lake. Other reports of skin infections — ranging from rashes to impetigo and staph — have also been reported by people who swam in Lake Martin.

The Alabama Department of Environmental Management is in charge of monitoring water quality for natural bodies of water, like Smith Lake. However, the agency only tests for e-coli.

“Staph infections can be contracted from anywhere,” said Lynn Battle, ADEM spokeswoman. “ADEM doesn’t test for staph. We’re not aware of a mass outbreak of infections related to swimming in lakes.”

The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) would be the agency responsible for issuing any public alerts or warnings for water quality concerns. Dr. Karen Landers, a pediatrician who works for the agency, said she wasn’t aware of any alerts or swimming restrictions for Smith Lake or other lakes.

“With any natural body of water, there’s going to be bacteria,” she said. “Wild animals are going in and out of it, and we can’t stop that from happening. And children are going to have scrapes and bug bites. I would caution parents to rinse their children well after they get out of the water to reduce the bacteria on the skin to prevent infections like impetigo.”

Anyone with skin infections should avoid swimming in natural bodies of water like lakes to prevent further exposure to bacteria, she said.

“You should take personal measures to keep the skin as clean as possible,” Landers said.

* Tiffeny Owens can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at 256-734-2131.

* Tiffeny Owens can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at 256-734-2131.


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