Hepatitis hell from sewage in sea

HIS children, and even the family domestic worker, suffered when super-fit surfski paddler and successful businessman Dave de Coning, 42, picked up the Hepatitis A virus from sewage in the Nahoon river.

It happened three years ago, but with Nahoon beach and river, and the Ihlanza river still closed this week after a serious spillage of sewage during the Easter weekend 11 days ago, he wanted his story to serve as a warning to beach-users not to blithely ignore the dangers to health posed by viruses lurking in sewage-contaminated oceans and rivers.

Latest test results revealed faecal counts (CFU/100ml) of between 4600 and 11000 at Nahoon, compared to the Blue Flag limit of 1500.

Yesterday, De Coning described how his children, aged four and two, had to receive painful injections, as did the family domestic worker and his wife, and how he felt weak and demotivated for six months.

Even his marital bed was off- limits, as the virus is easily transmitted, even in a single drop of water, unlike hepatitis B and C, which are normally transmitted via needles and cuts and among high-risk people.

Dr Peter Meyer, also a keen paddler, said: “You can get very sick. This is a serious health issue. People need to take heed of ‘beach closed’ signs.”

De Coning said he received a couple of mouthfuls of smelly, brown scum from the blades of fellow paddlers as they trained hard.

He then started feeling grim, and when a mate walked up and said: “You look like a hunting dog with biliary,” and his mother said he was looking yellow, he visited his doctor and hepatitis A was confirmed.

“It was the sh...est feeling ever. You have no energy. You cannot even get up. It is like a hangover from hell, without the alcohol.”

Instead of being among the front paddlers in the Surfers’ Marathon, “I was so pap I could not walk onto the beach to watch the launch.”

He could do no work.

But a regimen of vitamin B boosters, and a reflexologist who also gave him advice on how to look after his liver and what to eat to “get my enzymes going”, pulled him through.

De Coning is back at peak fitness, and is about to race in a 36-hour 350km monster. —