Who had "sea lice" on their 2020 bingo card?
Typically found in the warm waters of the Caribbean and on the Gulf Coast, this most recent sea lice outbreak in the Garden State was likely caused by Tropical Storm Isaias carrying the pests — which are about the size of a grain of sand — from Florida and leaving them in its wake, reports the Asbury Park Press, which is a part of the USA TODAY Network.
While they can be found throughout the year, sea lice are most active from the months of April through August.
Sea lice aren't like head lice. They're actually jellyfish larvae and while you may not see them, you will definitely feel them. Jellyfish larvae still have the same stinging cells as a full grown jellyfish, and they'll leave a mark.
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Sea lice bite when they get caught beneath a swimmer's bathing suit. The bites can cause a red rash and small blisters, according to the Florida Department of Public Health.
Despite being impossible to spot in the water, there are a few recommendations from health experts on how to prevent and treat this nuisance. The Florida Department of Public Health offered the following tips:
- Each beachgoer needs to assess his or her individual risk of an immune response. People with a history of a severe reaction should confine their beach activities to land, or use pool facilities instead, during outbreaks.
- Swimmers should avoid wearing T-shirts while in the ocean. Use of a topical sunscreen and limiting sun exposure protects against solar injury.
- Women should consider two-piece instead of one-piece bathing suits, to reduce the surface area of swimwear that could trap larvae.
- After ocean exposure, swimmers need to change out of their bathing suits as soon as possible after exiting from the water. Removal of possibly contaminated swimwear, followed by a fresh-water shower to rinse off loose larvae, should limit the number of stings.
- Bathing suits should be thoroughly washed with detergent and heat-dried after use.
Jai-Leen James is a digital producer at the Asbury Park Press. She can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @j_james17.
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This article originally appeared on Asbury Park Press: Sea lice reported at New Jersey beaches; check out safety tips