Issue 47 / 12 December 2011

’TIS the season to be careful, especially in and around the water, according to a series of case reports published in the latest issue of the MJA.

A Perth hospital treated five severe boat propeller and jet-ski injuries in just 10 days over the Christmas and New Year period last year.

One 23-year-old man, who was riding a jet ski with colleagues after a Christmas party, suffered an almost complete amputation of his leg when his jet ski collided with a colleague’s.

The doctors who described the cases in the MJA wrote that jet-ski injuries tended to be severe, often resulted in irreparable damage and commonly involved uncontrollable wound infection. (1)

“This case series highlights the issue of injury from boating and small watercraft activities, as well as the need for increased public awareness of these risks”, the authors wrote. They called for safer jet-ski design, such as the introduction of propeller guards.

Think fishing sounds like a tamer option? Two separate case reports in the MJA revealed hooks are not the only potential health hazard when it comes to this apparently harmless hobby.

Doctors at Sydney Eye Hospital had to surgically remove a sinker with fishing line still attached from the right orbit of a 21-year-old man after his line suddenly released from trapped vegetation. (2)

“There was a small nasal choroidal rupture and vitreous haemorrhage, but no major visual sequelae”, the authors said.

A crayfish diver also required surgery after he was unknowingly stabbed in the eye in what the authors said was the first known case of crayfish antenna penetration. He also recovered with vision intact. (3)

When it comes to tropical holidays, travellers should be prepared for more than just Bali belly. Monkeys are proving to be a health hazard, especially in Indonesia and Thailand.

Researchers found that most tourists who showed up in Australian travel clinics seeking rabies postexposure prophylaxis had injuries caused by monkeys (45%) or dogs (42%). (4)

But it’s not just recreation — life on the land carries its own crop of risks. Quad bikes take the heaviest toll on farms with 16 farm-based deaths recorded so far this year. Another five deaths related to off-farm use of quad bikes.

These figures highlighted the need for improved safety regulations, Dr Tony Lower, of the University of Sydney’s Australian Centre for Agricultural Health and Safety, wrote in the MJA. (5)

“Clinicians have an important role in encouraging practices to reduce quad bike-related injuries”, he wrote.

However, when it comes to preventing Christmas weight gain, Finland has adopted perhaps the most unusual approach — a bit of spouse lifting.

Researchers reported in the MJA that the Wife Carrying World Championships held annually in Finland boosted health by encouraging exercise and social relationships. The authors suggested the races should be “elevated in prominence”. (6)

– Amanda Bryan

1. MJA 2011; 195: 704-705
2. MJA 2011; 195: 708
3. MJA 2011; 195: 706-707
4. MJA 2011; 195: 673-675
5. MJA 2011; 195: 645
6. MJA 2011; 195: 723-725

Posted 12 December 2011