Surfers are always looking for that perfect wave! Increasingly, the lure of international destinations for finding good surf is too hard to resist, and we see more and more surfers heading to Indonesia, Philippines, Sth Africa, Vietnam, anywhere where there may be a less-travelled break.
Many of these places are in less-developed parts of the world, local medical services are minimal, and endemic disease may be a concern. The Travel Doctor-TMVC can help identify the local health issues and provide the appropriate advice and preparation.
Surfers should prepare for the journey by doing a little research about the destination. While surf-community advice tends to be about the quality of the surf, good advice about local medical conditions can often be obtained by those who have been there.
Consider a medical and dental check-up before you go.
- Vaccinations should be considered, especially for the food and water-borne diseases, and getting a suitable medical/first-aid kit is critical.
- Travel insurance is vital, medical evacuation from other countries can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars!
The most serious infectious disease encountered by surfers is malaria, often of the severe falciparum variety. Many top surf sites are located in areas of high malaria transmission, Travel Doctor-TMVC clinics can advise you exactly where this is an issue. It is recommended that all travellers in high-risk areas should be taking medication to reduce the likelihood of developing this disease, as well as mosquito avoidance measures, such has using DEET containing repellents and permethrin soaked mosquito nets and clothing. It is vital for the medication to be continued on return home for the recommended period to minimise the risk of illness.
Luckily malaria is not the commonest surfers’ disease. Mosquitoes in the tropics also spread dengue fever, for which there is no vaccine. Repellent is essential.
Other notable health risks include hook worm (the larvae penetrate intact skin from mud contaminated with dog faeces), other intestinal worms and parasites, skin infections (bacterial and fungal), trauma from falls and other injuries.
Coral cuts are common and easily infected in the tropics and surfers should have direct access to antiseptic, and even antibiotics. Sunburn is always an issue.
Vaccination against hepatitis A, B, and typhoid are often advised, as is checking the status of routine childhood vaccinations such as tetanus, measles and chicken pox.
A comprehensive first aid and medical kit is recommended. The medical kit ideally will contain medication for the rapid treatment of traveller’s diarrhoea, coral cuts and other common ailments. Water purification tablets +/- filters are also advised.
Travel Doctor-TMVC Services for Surfers
Travel Doctor-TMVC clinics throughout Australia have had much experience in preparing surfers, and advise an initial consultation well before the planned departure date. Special arrangements for groups are available, and medical kits can be tailored to groups or individuals.
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