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Old 17-12-2014, 01:14   #1
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Bilge sickness?

Hi Cruisers,

I have been doing the long awaited (and dreaded) work of pulling out two failed freshwater bladder tanks in our keel. It has been a hideous job, basically amounting to crawling around head first in the keel extracting 420 litres of slimy black water from the failed tanks, the hard and slimy bladders themselves and various solid crud from the failed original keel tank coating. This slimy, stinking water is over 10 years old, and polluted with traces of diesel as well.

I have tried to keep the ventilation going in the boat as I have done this work, and I thought I did OK.

But on Saturday I came down with what has been the worst cold (or flu) of my life. Seriously crook for the last five days, only getting a bit better now. And I just don't get colds. I could count the number of sick days in the last 10 years on one hand.

I did not finish the job, and before I go back down there again, my wife and I are wondering if there might be something in the keel tanks that caused this, and if so, what the heck to do about it. The job is mostly done except for the process of degreasing the inside of the keel and the baffles, and then painting them. But that's going to be another day or so down in the keel.

Has anyone heard of serious cold or flu like symptoms from dealing with this sort of job on a boat? Is it just a coincidence?

Matt
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Old 17-12-2014, 01:53   #2
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Re: Bilge sickness?

Suggest using a pump garden sprayer with mild bleach solution,as in a swimming pool.Spray & let sit til it dries-2-3hrs.Should kill any bugs/mold/bacteria,& freshen things up.
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Old 17-12-2014, 02:34   #3
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Re: Bilge sickness?

I think there are three possibilities. The first is that the two things are coincidental. The second is that working in that difficult environment has caused you to become run-down, enhancing the chances of picking up a virus. The third is that you have picked up virus/bacteria from the bilge. I like the suggestion of disinfecting the bilge.
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Old 17-12-2014, 02:46   #4
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Re: Bilge sickness?

Yes I really like that disinfectant idea. Thank you Deblen I'll mix something up.


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Old 17-12-2014, 12:23   #5
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Re: Bilge sickness?

nasty.
definitely pump out bilge--put into the bilge water some bilge cleaner -- watch out for bleach and bilge pumps. mechansms and pump parts and alladat.....
then take bilge soap and clean the bilge.
nasty water has molds and and other pathogens. be safe.
clean it then play/work in it.
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Old 17-12-2014, 12:40   #6
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Re: Bilge sickness?

The possibility that a viable cold or flu virus has managed to thrive in your bilge is so remote it isn't worth considering. You caught the cold off another human being, within about 3 days of becoming ill.
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Old 17-12-2014, 13:32   #7
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Re: Bilge sickness?

Or, possibly some of the molds triggered a flu-like reaction.

Matt, I'd suggest using Sugar Soap and hot water in the garden sprayer, to get the bilge really clean. Then rinse. (for the Americans, Sugar Soap is TSP).

If you want to bleach it to kill pathogens, roughly 1 Tbsp. to 10 gallons, about 50 ml to 8.5 l will do it. Not necessary to use higher concentration if you're using household bleach available in Oz. At that concentration, i doubt it will hurt any pumps, and it will slightly sterilize the hoses, or pipes.

Sorry you got sick. That's no fun at all.

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Old 17-12-2014, 14:17   #8
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Re: Bilge sickness?

Are you sure you have a cold or the flu? Plenty of other diseases come from stagnant water, protozoal infections would be a primary concern (many of them have very flu-like symptoms), but bacterial also. Some of them can be quite serious. Given the coincidence of your exposure to the filthy water and your development of the symptoms, well, if it was me, I would be seen by a physician, preferably someone with infectious disease specialty experience...

Pete

PS, especially since you are an Aussie and have socialized medicine...
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Old 17-12-2014, 15:10   #9
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Re: Bilge sickness?

Thanks guys, at least so far nobody has said "oh no, you have bilge rot disease and now only have 24 hours to live!"

I'd be buggered then, I need at least another week of work to get the boat going again.

I like the theory that I just got run down by working in such poor conditions. I have carefully checked my symptoms and I am tracking somewhere between a common cold and the flu, either a really nasty version of the former or a mild version of the latter. If the symptoms had diverged at all I would have been straight off to the Quack double quick time. A lot better today but still can't talk all that well. Nobody at home is complaining about that.

I am planning on spraying the area with Domestos which I think is a chlorine based disinfectant, just to be sure. I just can't help thinking there must be something living in that soup. Perhaps the dreaded diesel bacteria for a start. I wonder what effect that one has on the human immune system? Can't be good for you.

Matt


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Old 17-12-2014, 15:13   #10
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Re: Bilge sickness?

Quote:
Originally Posted by pete33458 View Post
Are you sure you have a cold or the flu? Plenty of other diseases come from stagnant water, protozoal infections would be a primary concern (many of them have very flu-like symptoms), but bacterial also. Some of them can be quite serious. Given the coincidence of your exposure to the filthy water and your development of the symptoms, well, if it was me, I would be seen by a physician, preferably someone with infectious disease specialty experience...

Pete

PS, especially since you are an Aussie and have socialized medicine...

Good point, if I stop getting better I will see the quack. Particularly as the current government seems keen on ripping up the Ozzie medical system. Better get there while I still can. :^(

Matt


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Old 17-12-2014, 15:16   #11
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Bilge sickness?

Quote:
Originally Posted by zeehag View Post
nasty.
definitely pump out bilge--put into the bilge water some bilge cleaner -- watch out for bleach and bilge pumps. mechansms and pump parts and alladat.....
then take bilge soap and clean the bilge.
nasty water has molds and and other pathogens. be safe.
clean it then play/work in it.

Thanks zeehag, currently the entire bilge pump system is sitting in the shed well out of harms way but I will be screwed if the boat develops a bad leak. The live aboard next door is keeping an eye on her for me in the interim. Hooray for liveaboards I say!

Matt


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Old 17-12-2014, 15:24   #12
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Re: Bilge sickness?

Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkSF View Post
The possibility that a viable cold or flu virus has managed to thrive in your bilge is so remote it isn't worth considering. You caught the cold off another human being, within about 3 days of becoming ill.

Well there's one point in favour of solo sailing. :^)


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Old 17-12-2014, 18:24   #13
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Re: Bilge sickness?

Used to deliver fuel oil for a winter job. Big no no to leave cold diesel coated gloves under cab heater which filled cab with fumes resulting in a lung infection. Left gloves outside in the fresh air. So lots of diesel fumes could be your problem. Bought a 8 in flexible hose, think shiny drier hose, deformed it to fit over the forced air portion of a small blower that took the fumes to the outside when I opened up my fuel tank inspection ports. Keepin the fumes out may be the solution
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