Bad health news for surfers

SURFERS are three times more likely to have dangerous superbugs in their bodies than non-surfers.

For the first time, international researchers have discovered that wave riders have a higher rate of the bacteria E coli in their gut that does not respond to the antibiotic cefotaxime.

Cefotaxime has previously been prescribed to kill off these bugs but some have acquired genes that enable them to survive.

E coli is caused by food or water contamination and can spark bloody diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting and fever.

The resport published in the journal Environment International found that boardriders ingest 10 times more water than swimmers.

As superbugs continue to be a global challenge, there is increasing focus on the part played by the natural environment. This research was carried out in the UK.

“We are not seeking to discourage people from spending time in the sea – an activity which has a lot of benefits in terms of exercise, wellbeing and connecting with nature,” Dr Will Gaze, head researcher from University of Exeter Medical School, said.

“It is important that people understand the risks involved so that they can make informed decisions about their bathing and sporting habits.

“We now hope that our results will help policymakers, beach managers and water companies to make evidence-based decisions to improve water quality even further for the benefit of public health.”

Queensland environmental expert Professor Tor Hundloe said our seas were cleaner than many surfing spots overseas.

“Certainly tests upstream may show up bacteria but once you reach the open waters, they are relatively clean,” Prof Hundloe said.

“I would surf anywhere on this planet. There’s not much of a risk from contaminated water,” Kayla said.

Henry Sapiecha

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