Woman claims parasitic infection came from Lake Marion
by The Associated Press | June 5, 2017 10:19 am
A Berkeley County woman said last week that she was diagnosed with a parasite after swimming in lakes Marion and Moultrie.
Abigayle Williams told a lowcountry TV station that she grew up fishing, boating and swimming on Lake Marion, but that she is done with the latter. She told the station that she began having pain about Christmas 2016, experiencing “fever, vomiting, faintness and then a lot of abdominal discomfort.”
After nearly six months’ worth of doctors’ visits, she was finally diagnosed May 30.
“They did a colonoscopy and endoscopy and found out I had worms from swimming in the lake,” she said.
The state Department of Health and Environmental Control said it has stations on lakes Marion and Moultrie to monitor water quality.
“It is important to understand that although water quality in South Carolina is generally good, there is always a potential risk when swimming in natural waters,” said a DHEC spokesman. “Recreational water users should assume that there is always a risk of bacteria in warm freshwater sources and be aware that there is always a low-level risk of infection.”
That risk is enough to keep Williams out of the water.
“I grew up swimming in there,” she said. “Even taking my dog down there, I won’t even let him get in there.”
Medical University of South Carolina Dr. Preston Church, a specialist in infections diseases, told the TV station that one can best avoid contracting such illnesses in fresh water by following these tips.
* Don’t swallow the water.
* Avoid water that has drainage feeds or any potential sewer outfall.
• Don’t swim in lakes that have been in areas of recent flooding. The floodwaters may be contaminated with animal waste that can transmit infections to humans and flooded pasture lands may drain into lakes.
“This is almost always in the southern United States during the summer months and is associated with warm bodies of fresh water,” said Church. “Most commonly associated with activities such as diving into a lake or water skiing – presumably the water forced up the nose with force may propel the organism into the nasal passages or sinuses and from there it can make its way to the brain. This infection is almost always fatal. The annual number of cases in the US is typically 5 to 10 per year, making this a VERY RARE event. I believe there was one case in South Carolina last year.”
Church said each case of an infection is different and would be treated differently. Therefore, the wisest move is to see your doctor and have the appropriate testing done, if you think you have contracted a parasite or serious bacteria. Usually, your doctor will need to administer a stool test to properly identify the specific causes of infection.