Da Buggah Bacteria

Gary Kewley
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Friday - April 07, 2006
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When there’s a sewage problem like the one in the Ala Wai, it’s best for your health to just stay out of the water
When there’s a sewage problem like the one in the Ala
Wai, it’s best for your health to just stay out of the

Aloha, surfers and beachgoers! Can this be real? Are we really out of the storm? It looks like it! As of Saturday, April 1 the National Weather Service posted this notice: “Record setting month of excessive rainfall finally ends.” Remember this was April Fools Day, and it’s possible Mother Nature has a few jokes left. As I write this, it was our 42nd day of rain. That’s a joke to me. That’s more than the 40 days ... Thank God it wasn’t 40 nights as well! ...

So the synopsis is: The central North Pacific has been “locked” in a rare pattern of repeated low pressure systems (storms) west of the state of Hawaii - for more than six weeks! Every island has been impacted by severe weather and flooding events, especially the west half of the state: Kauai and Oahu. I lost count of the flash floods, but I certainly will remember the tornado on Lanai, the dam break on Kauai and the Ala Wai spill - amazing.

The March records for rainfall “went for broke”! It was the wettest month ever for Mount Waialeale and Lihue Airport. What’s weird is that December was Mount Waialeale’s driest month ever. We achieved two world records at extreme opposites - from driest to wettest - in just three months! Kaneohe and Punaluu were also drenched beyond the record books. Plus, the Honolulu airport has already surpassed its rainfall for all of 2005! Wow.

How much rain to the nearest inch? Try 130 inches since Feb. 19 at Mount Waialeale, 43 inches at Lihue Airport and 20 inches in Kaneohe.

If you just love this stuff, I’ve put it all on SURFNEWSNETWORK.COM I’ve learned a lot about weather the last month. We all have.

Now let’s get on with the surf. What’s been really bad for wave riders and divers and swimmers is the dirty water runoff - including the 48-million-gallon Ala Wai sewage spill.

One of the nasty culprits lurking in our “dirty” water is bacteria known as leptospira. This nasty little thing causes a disease called - what do you know? - leptospirosis. What is not widely known is how dangerous this can get for humans. Symptoms can include high fever, severe headache, chills, muscle ache and vomiting. Ouch! Jaundice (yellow skin and eyes) stomach ache, diarrhea and/or rash are also on the list of nasties.

Then if this wasn’t enough for you tough guys, if you don’t treat little lepto, it can develop into kidney damage, meningitis (swollen brain membrane and spinal cord), liver failure and breathing troubles. In rare cases, you can die! OK? Had enough? I wanna kill this little bugga bacteria!

So how do we get it or not get it? Exposure to contaminated water. It’s that simple: Don’t go in the water. When there’s a sewage mix up (especially human or animal excrement) like the one we had in the Ala Wai, billions of little lepto float right into the places we surf.

These little buggahs infiltrate our insides through any opening they can find, especially if we have a cut or open sore. And since we live in a tropical climate we get it far worse. Bacteria flourish in warm, moist regions. In fact, Hawaii gets 50 percent of the 100-200 cases reported annually - 50 percent!

And did you know that leptospirosis is the most widespread “zoonotic” disease in the world? I’ll let you Google zoonotic for the fun of it.

So please, wait ‘til we get the go-ahead from Watson Okubo and the crew at the Clean Water branch of the state Department of Health. Surfing and other ocean sports are meant to increase health and happiness, not decrease it! Go to SURFNEWSNETWORK.COM or call 638-RUSH and 596-SURF and I’ll have it there as soon as I know it’s safe to surf again.

The spots to stay out of: Ala Moana Bowls, Rock Piles and Kaisers, Magic Island spots to Point Panic and beyond. Make sure you look for the little signs posted and ask the lifeguards.

If in doubt, don’t go out. We should be clear for take-off soon enough! Mahalo.

By the way, April is Tsunami Awareness Month. Go to tsunamiwave.info for your learning pleasure and safety measures. Remember that the chance of a tsunami is very, very slight ... sorta like the chance of 42 days of record rain. Be prepared.

I’m GQ, dropping in 4 U!

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