Warning as people bitten while swimming in seafront lakes in Clevedon and Weston-super-Mare

Swimmers at the seafron lakes in Clevedon and Weston-super-Mare have been warned not to swim until the tide overtops Credit: BPM Media

People are being urged not to swim in the seafront lakes in North Somerset due to flesh-eating lice.

Swimmers using both Clevedon Marine Lake and Weston-super-Mare lakes have reported being bitten while in the water.

Some have been left with red patches on their skin, after feeling ‘stings’ and ‘nips’.

Others have said they have found insect-like creatures in their swimwear after getting out of the lakes.

The news comes just weeks after people were warned not to swim at Clevedon Marine Lake after high levels of the bacteria e.coli were found in the water.

The Marine Lake Enthusiasts Society, which manages Clevedon’s Marine Lake, said it has received a number of reports of people being bitten in recent weeks.

A spokesperson from the society said: “We've had a few comments and messages about bitey things in the lake.

“One theory is that they're sea lice. Another is that they're baby jellyfish - little jellyfish larvae (Medusa) that are difficult to spot.

“These critters get in the lake when the sea comes over the wall and they do bite or sting. For most people, it's just a little scratch sensation, but some of us more sensitive types can get a rash.

“The bad news is that there's nothing we can do to stop them - it's natural water and sea life lives in it, plus the water coming over the sea wall is much needed to keep the lake water fresh.”

Although the sea lice are harmless to humans, they have adapted to live on salmon, feeding on the fishes' skin and blood to survive.

They cause physical damage and stress in the fish, and adversely affecting growth and performance.

Severe infestations can lead to secondary infections and mass mortalities. Sea lice are not harmful to humans, but the lesions caused by even a minor infestation can make salmon unmarketable.

Lake bosses say the creatures should dissipate once the water is refreshed by an overtopping tide. This is due to happen on the weekend of August 27 and 28.

The spokesperson added: "If you do have a bad reaction, speak to your pharmacist and avoid swimming until your skin clears up.”