HERRIMAN, Utah (ABC4) — Beware if you plan on ending the summer in the cool waters of Blackridge Reservoir in Herriman. Residents have reported coming across leeches while swimming.
A leech is a small parasite that can attach to your skin. Many different types of leeches feed on the blood of their hosts, whether it’s a human, fish, or mammal. Leeches, while a nuisance and potentially harmful, have therapeutic uses.
Herriman City said the leeches in the Blackridge Reservoir aren’t known to be harmful but officials said swimmers should use caution regardless.
“The reservoir water is untreated and is primarily used as a storage facility for secondary water,” City officials warned through social media. “Swimmers may encounter these or other nuisances.”
The reservoir is a popular destination for Utah recreators, offering a nearby trailhead, a faux beachfront, a playground, a pavilion and more.
Herriman City said officials are looking into options to help mitigate the leech population at the reservoir, as well as other nuisances such as snails and bugs. One such option includes populating the reservoir with fish that will eat the various bugs and critters.
In the meantime, what should you do if an unwanted leech attaches to you?
Healthline, an medical information resource, says the first thing you should do is find the head of the leech.
“A leech’s head is smaller and slimmer than the rest of its body,” reads Healthline. “Look for the narrowest part of the leech to locate its mouth. This is usually the part attached to your skin.”
Once located, use one hand to gently pull your skin under the leech until it’s taut. Once your fingernail or another slim tool to gently separate the mouth of the leech away from your skin then flick it away before it reattaches.
Healthline recommends cleaning the bite mark with rubbing alcohol or a first-aid cleanser to help avoid any infection. After the leech is removed, there may also be a lot of bleeding. Healthline says after cleaning the wound, you should place a sterile bandage over the wound and change it frequently for the first few hours until the bleeding stops.