EASD Life: illustrations of surfing medicine

Infectious Surf

Some might say it’s a virus. The stoke spreading around the world maintaining a short incubation period with victims already hooked as soon as they stand up for the very first time. Triggered at a weather report, gone wild while paddling out, and leaving its victims paralysed with a big smile on the face after the swell has dropped. Although suffering from a surfing fever may be considered a serious DSM-IV condition, there are also physical aspects of infections in surfers.

Easier than ever surfers can travel almost anywhere nowadays (as long as airlines don’t charge too high board fees). Beautiful tropical destinations attract us with consistent conditions, nice water temperatures, and good food. But tropical infectious diseases sometimes are gotten easier, than gotten rid of, as you can read from a surfer’s point of view.

As you may have read previously, our friends from The Adventure Medic learned us how to prevent an endocarditis after being bitten by a seal. But seals are not the only ones in the sea who can cause secondary infections with their teeth. A little more up the marine food chain “the men in the grey suits” can cause severe wound infections with their attacks. Prophylactic antibiotic therapy should prevent these, and recently an interesting attempt to narrow down the spectrum of antibiotics has been undertaken.

In contrast to beautiful tropical locations, and heroic survivals of shark attacks, there are less attractive ways of obtaining infections while surfing: poo. Water pollution will be one of the topics at our next conference. Have a look at this video from UK based Surfers against Sewage to get a visual idea of how disgusting water pollution is.

If you would like to support an organization that is protecting your beaches, waves, and water, then search for a local chapter of Surfrider Foundation.

Arvid Schigt.

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