Until recently the only option available to lake associations
and government agencies was to treat lakes with large quantities
of copper sulfate, a chemical that indiscriminately kills a wide
variety of plant and animal species, including the snails which
harbor the itch-causing parasites.
Concerned with the potential negative long-term environmental
effects of using copper sulfate, SICON, LLC. developed an alternative
control program which has been used successfully on several lakes
in Michigan and Maine since 1991 (Journal of Parasitology
87(2): 424-426). Their control program involves capturing
and treating infected ducks with the same drug that veterinarians
use to kill dog and cat parasites. After treatmenet the ducks are released
unharmed near the point of capture, but on a lake where the snail
intermediate hosts are not present.