ENVIRONMENT Surfers at higher risk of hepatitis

Surfers are three times more likely to get the liver disease hepatitis A than the general public, a scientific survey has revealed.

The author of the report, Alistair Gammie, said: "There is significant correlation between the number of years surfed and the frequency of surfing and increased risk of acquiring the disease. We recommend that all surfers should be informed of the availability of a safe effective vaccine for hepatitis A which would offer them protection from the increased risk.

Chris Hines, general secretary of the pressure group Surfers Against Sewage, believes the results back his call for all coastal discharges of human waste to be properly treated by disinfection or microfiltration.

He said: "If water companies are aware of the risk and unaware of ways of minimising that risk, then it could be argued that they would be clearly negligent not to do so ... Hepatitis A has been shown to survive for up to 100 days in salt water, therefore the risk is not adequately dealt with by the pump and dump mentality of partially treated long sea outfalls. We don't want the risk dispersed or diluted we want it dealt with."