As temperatures are forecast to rise well into the 30s again this weekend, the province of Groningen has issued a warning against swimming at one of the most popular spots in the north – the Hoornseplas – due to reports of swimmer’s itch.
By Hans de Preter and Traci White
Tens of thousands of swimmers seeking to beat the heat head to the Hoornseplas just south of the city every summer, but not this weekend. Since Thursday, a negative swimming recommendation has been in place for the Hoornseplas due to swimmer’s itch.
RTV Noord reports that the province is prohibiting swimming in the waters there because of multiple report of swimmer’s itch, which is caused by larvae of a worm species (Trichobilharzia) penetrating the skin and causing an allergic reaction.
“When a person is infected for the first time, itching occurs after ten to thirty minutes, which usually quickly passes”, according to the Dutch research institute RIVM. “Red spots appear on the skin where the larvae have entered. One to two weeks later, small, itchy red bumps develop in the same place. The first time the infection can pass almost unnoticed.”
Another perennial summer issue in the Netherlands is the development of blue algae or cyanobacteria, which has been spotted at the Paterswoldsemeer. With a characteristic blue-green colour, blue algae is a type of bacteria that thrives on photosynthesis and can produce cyanotoxins, which can be harmful to humans and animals: common complaints including skin irritation and respiratory problems.
Be sure to check zwemwater.nl
The Northern Times put together an overview of popular locations across the north for swimmers last summer, but be sure to double check the water conditions before diving in. This summer has not experienced as big of a bloom as last year so far, but all current warnings for unsuitable public water swimming areas are listed at zwemwater.nl.
Among the top spots in the north where the water is fine are the ‘t Gasselterveld lake (and open water park) in Drenthe, which has unusually clear waters due to its former use as a sand excavation pit. The waters of the IJsselmeer and the Wadden islands in Friesland, but there are a handful of warnings across the province. In the city of Groningen, water conditions are still safe at the city beaches at DOT and Rebel Rebel.
For anyone looking for a slightly less natural swimming experience, there are also plenty of public pools in the north: check out waargaanwezwemmen for Friesland, Sport 050 for the city of Groningen and Zwemmen in Emmen for the city of Emmen.