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July 02, 2018

Warnings issued for sea lice outbreak in Florida waters

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Florida beachgoers have been warned by Florida’s Department of Health of sea lice in the state’s northwest shores. Pensacola beach lifeguards have put up purple flags to alert swimmers about the underwater organisms.

The Pensacola News Journal reported that the sea lice are actually tiny jellyfish larvae and jellyfish cells. They can cause irritation and rashes to the skin.

Purple flags were posted early on Tuesday to warn visitors about stinging sea lice. The director of public safety for the beach, Dave Greenwood, said the lice can mildly irritate a swimmer's skin.

Sea lice are common on beaches during the summer as the waters warm. They can’t live outside of the warm salt water and do not remain on a swimmer's body after they leave the water.

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For more on this story go to our Twitter account @amomama_usa "It's just one of those you have to deal with when you go into the Gulf of Mexico," he said.  

Purple flags warn visitors about the presence of dangerous marine life. Included with the purple flags were green ones that signaled calm waters, on Tuesday morning.

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"They aren't very intense, which is why we call them sea lice and not sea hornets or sea wasps."

Dave Greenwood, The Pensacola News Journal, June 26, 2018

Greenwood said lifeguards would check the waters throughout the day and take down the purple flags when the sea lice dissipate. A report by the Department of Health stated that the sea lice typically appear on Florida’s shores between March and August, with varying degrees of severity.

Sea lice are also called thimble jellyfish and can cause dermatitis, or small red bumps on a person's skin. The condition usually appears between 4 and 24 hours after exposure.

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However, some people may feel a "prickling" sensation while in the water. Other symptoms also experienced besides the rash are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, and muscle spasms.

One may even have trouble sleeping. The sea lice are barely visible to the naked eye and they tend to get trapped between swimmers' bathing suits and skin where friction can cause their cells to "fire," or sting.

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Some activities can increase the likelihood of getting stung. These include contact with a surfboard, lying on the beach, or sitting on a car seat in a wet bathing suit when going home.

Female swimmers wearing one-piece suits and children and adults wearing T-shirts in the water can be at risk of a more severe reaction. Treatment for this dermatitis can include an antihistamine, such diphenhydramine, an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream, calamine lotion, or an oatmeal bath.

There are a few measures one can take to try and avoid infection: Avoid the ocean if you have a history of a severe reaction. Refrain from wearing T-shirts in the water.

Immediately remove any contaminated clothing and thoroughly was swimsuits.

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