Apparently, people can get lice from swimming in the ocean now. And that's exactly what has been happening at some Northwest Florida beaches.
Lifeguards at Pensacola Beach raised purple flags on Tuesday, warning beachgoers that there was dangerous marine life in the water – tiny jellyfish larvae known as sea lice.
These little pests can cause itching, stinging, rashes, swollen skin and dermatitis. The only good news is that they only cling to people while in the water. Dave Greenwood, the director of public safety for Pensacola Beach, told the Pensacola News Journal
that they will leave a person's body after the person exits the water.
"It's just one of those [things] you have to deal with when you go into the Gulf of Mexico," Greenwood said. "You are a land animal and the Gulf is not our native environment."
These sea lice outbreaks aren't anything new, though. The Department of Health
states that these creatures are common during the months of March through August. It also stated, however, that the number of reported sea lice cases have been on the rise during the last four years.
The organisms are about the size of a speck of finely ground pepper, so don't bother looking for them. But if you are exposed, the Department of Health advises applying hydrocortisone cream to the areas affected.
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