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Old 19-02-2009, 08:12   #1
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Malaria, anyone? What other health issues have you had?

I would like to start a thread of sailors' stories of health issues they have had to address while at sea, or in ports other than at home.

I just begun recounting my own malaria, which I don't know where I contracted it, but which the symptoms showed up in Eritrea. The story is coming in six parts, at Sailing Faith: The Long Way Home beginning today, but here's a condensed version.

Sailing into Massawa, Eritrea, from Aden, Yemen, I was overcome with fever. Over 40 degrees in most parts, but over 104 degrees in our superior American system of weights and measures.

After two days, I was looked at by a doctor aboard a cruise ship that docked there, who suggested I get to a hospital. The first test results came back negative, but when I did make it the the UN Hospital in Asmarra, Eritrea's capital, their tests showed positive. The UN doctors were good, the hospital was run by the Jordanian Military. Eritrea didn't have a very good drug inventory, so after three days, they told my wife I should evacuate to Cairo, where life-support equipment was available, if I needed it.

It was in Cairo that I was treated with good drugs, and after three days they let me out of the hospital, weakened substantially, to work on getting a visa to reenter Eritrea. It took a week for the visa, but I was able to join my family again for our journey up the Red Sea.

By the way, the UN charged US$125 per day, including everything, x rays, drugs, food, etc. The hospital in Cairo was for profit, and since I wasn't Egyptian, I had to pay full price. The bill for three days, x-rays, drugs, blood work, ultrasound, and everything else came to US$475, and they made money on me.
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Old 19-02-2009, 08:39   #2
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Boo-boos in Paradise

The big issue in the SW Pacific this season has been Dengue fever, another mozzie-borne plague. Quite a few yotties have been stricken in places like Vanuatu, New Caledonia and Malaysia. This disease can be fatal, and is always most unpleasant. AS far as I know, there are no preventative regimens, other than avoiding being bitten by the little buggers. One should get current info before voyaging to such places this coming season.

The disease that has been the biggest problem for Ann and I is Ciguaterra. We have been intoxicated (no, not a rum-related thing) twice, both times in New Caledonia. You probably know that this affliction comes from eating fish which carry accumulated neurotoxins which ultimately derive from a dinoflaggelate that lives in the coral. It gets consumed by coral-grazing species, and moves up the food chain, becoming more concentrated as it goes. SAdly, when ingested by humans, the toxins are stored away in the liver, and are only very slowly excreted, so that you can store up a "loading dose" which can persist for years. Then it may take only a smallish additional dose to bring on the symptoms. In our case, we foolishly ate parts of a large Spanish Mackerel and a large Trevally... won't do that again! This is another disease that can be fatal, and should be avoided, 'cause part of the regime for recovery is total abstinance from alcohol!

On the other hand, most yotties are really very healthy. We are mostly pretty active, tend to eat more benevolent foods, and don't spend much time in places where contagion is likely. And for me, the occasional stress of cruising (storms at sea, etc) are WAY less than a few hours on the freeway, or listening to incessant background noise.

Cheers,

Jim and Ann s/v Insatiable II lying Gladstone Qld Oz
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Old 19-02-2009, 08:51   #3
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I agree, most yotties are really very healthy. That's too bad about the ciguatera, which we managed to avoid in our own travels. We met folks who had had dengue, but managed, through no fault of our own, to avoid that one too. To avoid the mossies, our strategy was to anchor out. We never saw the profit in being right next to shore at anchor, for two reasons, the swell is greater as water depth decreases, and the bugs can find you easier. We chose to let others be the bait.
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Old 19-02-2009, 09:05   #4
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FAith,

Hear,hear!! Yep, one of the secrets of health is anchoring farther out, and often, avoiding anchoring near villages. AFter all, the mozzie has to bite an infected person first, before she can transmit some disease to you.

We once had an Aussie boatie say that he could always identify long-term cruisers -- their anchors are too big, they anchor way to far out, and they use too much chain! Guilty as charged!

Cheers,

Jim
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Old 24-02-2009, 15:50   #5
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I suffered a bout of Dengue Fever many years ago, contracted; yes - you guessed it, on the Mosquito Coast (of Honduras). Not pleasant at all!
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Old 25-02-2009, 02:33   #6
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A serious dose of the flu...

I contacted a serious dose of the flu while I was working near Wewak in Northern Nui Guinea.

When it did not clear up after a few days we went to the local hospital and they did a blood test. Some amazing count of whatever they count.

A curative dose of antimalarials fixed the local variant of whatever I had and a few days later I was as right as rain.

We did have a few very good Aussie trained doctors in the local hospital though.
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Old 26-02-2009, 23:53   #7
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Dengue Fever, Ross River Fever, a severe reaction to the cyano bacteria Lyngbya majuscula, and some type of protozoan that had me on my back for 6 months, scarring part of my heart and giving me a heart attack. Still, given the choice of these things happenning to me and not leading the life I have led, I'd do the same.
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