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February 2007 Vol. 22, No. 2   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Infection Warning

from the February, 2007 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Indonesia is biodiversity central but it is an incubator for more than just odd fish and marine critters. Infections are not uncommon for divers doing the Lembeh Strait, other areas of Sulawesi and Indonesia in general. There are reports that E. coli levels are increasing in the Bunaken marine recreational areas. Because Lembeh’s famed muck diving is done close to shore, it’s also near lots of dumped trash and runoff from nearby land, including human waste. Often times it’s just plain nasty. You may see and smell strong substances like petroleum, but there’s lots more infectious material that you can’t see or smell.

The high temperatures and humidity typical of Sulawesi and other areas of Indonesia are strongly predisposed to promoting infections, both bacterial (like E. coli) and fungal. Not to mention that parasitic infections (malaria) and viral infections (dengue fever and HIV) also have a significant presence, and Indonesia has had more than its share of avian flu outbreaks in both birds and humans.

When diving at any site with lots of development nearby, don’t dive with open sores. Treat even very minor wounds immediately with a potent antiseptic, and keep a close eye on them. Diver’s eardrops are prudent after every dive. Keep skin as dry and as protected as is feasible. Also take precautions against mosquito bites and traveler’s diarrhea.

-- Doc Vikingo

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