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Sea Lice Outbreak Reported In Ocean City

OCEAN CITY, Md. (WJZ) -- Ocean City Beach Patrol is reporting numerous complaints about sea lice in the water.

A spokesperson for the patrol wrote on Twitter and Facebook, "They can get into bathing suits while swimming and cause discomfort."

Sea lice are tiny larvae of jelly fish or sea anemones that cause rashes and itching.

According to the Baltimore city health department, other symptoms of sea lice sometimes occur with a rash, including fever, nausea, vomiting, headache, fatigue, pinkeye and urethritis.

Health officials advise any person with sea lice to wash their skin with fresh water, thoroughly wash contaminated swimsuits with soap, and use antihistamines or topical creams to control itching.

The experience is not enough to stop the family from going back to the beach. It also is not unique to the mid-Atlantic, beaches in Florida have also experienced sea lice outbreaks.

"The waves looked good. It wasn't too rough," Joseph Dudzinski said.

But, after a dip in the water, Dudzinski and his daughter Janie began experiencing a discomfort that was hard to put into words.

"I was having this irritation on my legs and I was like, what the heck is going on?"  Dudinzski said.

"Like a mosquito bite that was like a mosquito bite and another mosquito bite at the same place," Janie Dudinski said.

Jennifer Schellhaas posted a video on the Ocean City Cool Facebook page showing what the sea lice look like.

She said, "Ok who really knows what these things are in the water? Crabs? Jelly fish? They get caught in your bathing suit, they itch, and there are millions in the water near 110 st. We scooped up a bucket of water and it was completely full of them. Everyone on the beach has something different to say about them. Anyone really know? Not a great video."

WJZ media partner The Baltimore Sun talked with Laura Gwyn of Potomac, Maryland who said that her two children were stung by sea lice while swimming near 89th Street in Ocean City on Wednesday.

Gwyn said a lifeguard told her about complaints of sea lice before they went into the water, but assured her and her children that it wasn't a major concern, and if they were to get stung, they could simply rinse with fresh water.

Without hesitation, Gwyn's children went into the water. After about 10-15 minutes they "started losing their minds," and frantically ran out of the ocean scratching themselves, she told the Sun.

Gwyn said her children quickly followed recommendations after getting out of the water. She said her daughter's swimsuit and hair contained dozens of lice.

This outbreak of sea lice was not the first one on the East Coast this year -- there's been reports of sea lice on waters off Alabama, Carolina, and Florida beaches.

Last year, sea lice contaminated a large supply of salmon, which caused prices to increase, costing the industry billions.

"It's kinda scary because I have two young children that are out here in the ocean playing" Krystie Oliver, Ocean City, said to WBOC.

Health officials advise anyone experiencing symptoms to wash their skin with fresh water, clean out their contaminated swimsuits and use anti-itch creams where necessary.

Which is exactly what the Dudzinskis did.

"We just want to let other people know about our experience because you know it's really easy to dismiss your child's complaint, like it's probably just sand," Dudzinski said.

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Grace Clark (WJZ Intern) contributed to this article. 

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