Posted by: lromney | September 15, 2010

Andy Irons Dies of Dengue Fever

Andy Irons at the Rip Curl Pro Competition

Andy Irons, a three-time world surf champion from Hawaii, died this past Tuesday, November 2nd from a possible case of dengue fever that he is said to have contracted in either Portugal or Puerto Rico while attending a surf competition. Irons, 32, left his expecting wife Lyndie, his family and friends as well as his fans.

Dengue fever is a virus contracted through the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito and  is endemic in Puerto Rico, Latin America, South East Asia, Samoa and Guam. The symptoms of dengue include: high fever, severe headache, severe pain behind the eyes, joint pain, muscle and bone pain, rash, and mild bleeding (e.g., nose or gums bleed, easy bruising). Dengue hemorrhagic fever is the more severe form of the disease and can be fatal if treatment is not received in a timely manner.

According to Irons’ family, the surfer was suffering from dengue fever and had missed the surf competition he was planning to compete in due to his illness. He was found dead  in his Dallas hotel by hotel workers. Talk of a possible methadone overdose has spread, however the toxicology reports from the autopsy have not been completed.

Although 1/3 of the world’s population live in areas at risk for contracting dengue fever, it is shocking to hear that the famous surfer may have died from it. Because dengue fever is not prevalent in the U.S., news of Irons’ death  may be the first time people have even heard of the infectious disease. The news of his death gives rise to many questions…. Will more people become more educated an aware of dengue and other infectious disease as a result of Irons’ death? Should the surf world as well as world travelers  begin to take extra precautions when traveling to areas where infectious diseases are prevalent? Surfers are known for their “clean beaches and clean oceans’ campaigns, will campaigns about infectious disease awareness be created and supported by Irons’ fellow surfers?  Will Irons’ sad and unexpected death give rise to people becoming more aware of how devastating infectious diseases are and  come to understand that anybody is at risk of contracting one if they are in endemic areas?

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Responses

  1. I know it’s terrible that Andy Irons died of Dengue fever, but it is fantastic that he’s bringing this devastating disease into the spotlight (finally).

  2. Is there any medication for Dengue fever? Or any medication to treat the symptoms?

  3. It’s good to know exactly what Dengue fever is. Even though he died from Dengue fever, his death must have influenced many people and let them know the awareness of infectious diseases.

  4. I know several friends who contracted Dengue fever while on their missions. Is it true that once you have the disease that if you get it a second time it is fatal?

  5. It makes you wonder what you can really do to protect yourself from every mosquito in the world. West Nile, Malaria, Dengue fever, and more are transmitted by them. Do mosquitoes do anything good?!

  6. Wow! Thanks for the post this is the first person I have heard of anyone getting Dengue fever. This is vary sad though, but does shed some light on the importance of mosquito borne diseases.

  7. How tragic to hear such news. I think we forget that we are still susceptible to diseases that are life threatening after living in country that has excellently controlled once commonly spread illnesses.

  8. My husband contracted Dengue while he was on his mission. To this day he passionately hates mosquitoes. He’s told me numerous times how awful it was because you are just too weak to do literally anything. My husband, fortunately, did not contract the hemorrhagic form. My husband didn’t know if he got it again if it would be fatal, but he is almost positive that he will carry the virus in his blood for the rest of his life. And isn’t Dengue one of the diseases that keeps you ineligible to donate blood?

  9. Wow, I have not heard of him before as a pro surfer, but how sad for his wife and family. It is always surprising to hear of things like this and the tragic accidents. We do sometimes forget that we are all susceptible. I, too, had a friend contract the dengue fever really bad while on his mission. Isn’t it nicknamed broke-bone fever or something like that? Because of the intense bone and joint pain, it does not sound like a pleasant infectious disease…

  10. Mosquitos, for being such tiny creatures are able to carry such debilitating diseases. What are things that we can do to avoid this besides bug spray?

  11. Bug spray or bed nets would help, but I think that just going to a doctor when you come back from a foreign country and going when you feel sick would be helpful.

  12. The CDC advises that travelers check for illnesses such as Dengue Fever outbreaks in countries before you travel and that if there are problems in the area that you take proper precautions. The mosquito that spreads Dengue Fever is active during the say so wearing bug spray at all times in important is avoiding it along with avoiding area’s with standing water and being in overall good health.

  13. It is sad that it takes something so horrible to bring an issue to the peoples attention. Hopefully his death will prevent others from harm by encouraging vaccinations and proper prevention services.

  14. Wow i don’t know if i have ever heard of someone dying of dengue, that’s so sad. Interesting post.

  15. Wow, this is so crazy! I know that this is a tragic situation, but this may help bring more attention to the problem of dengue fever and ways for people to prevent it.

  16. This is so scary I have not even heard of this disease. I hope that as a result of this experience, people take the time to get educated about it and try to protect themselves. I have always hated mosquitoes because you never know what will happen when one bites you.

  17. I remember someone bringing this up in my Environmental Health Class because we had Dengue Fever as a lecture that week. I think that more people in the U.S. and competitive surfers are more aware of what Dengue is and will take extra precautions when they travel because of this incident.

  18. It’s sad, but so great how much good famous people can do when they’re dead, you know what I mean. Superman, for example, his death has changed so many lives.

  19. I think people should be educated about all kinds of infectious diseases whether it is prevalence in thier geographic area or not.

  20. I am surprised how many people have not heard of Dengue fever, there were a few possible first cases in the US just this past summer, but I never heard the final results of the cases whether or not the Dengue was contracted in the states or if they brought it in with them.

  21. To be honest, the only time that I have really heard of dengue fever besides in my infectious disease class is when it was mentioned in George of the Jungle. I think that it is a devestating disease and most people do not know about it.

  22. It’s crazy to think that people can die from a simple mosquito bite. My husband got dengue on his mission, luckily her received proper treatment!

  23. This is so sad! It is so vital for people to get things checked out early to prevent some life threatening illnesses.

  24. I think we should research the places we travel to before going to them. If we know the diseases that are endemic to certain areas, we will better be able to protect ourselves from contracting the disease.

  25. This story is a good reminder that infectious diseases still exist and we need to do our part to stay healthy and vaccinated.

  26. It is so sad that Andy Iron died of something that would have otherwise been prevented. Dengue fever can be prevented by using repellants which would prevent mosquitoe bites.

  27. It is so sad to hear about things like this, but let’s just hope that this makes people more aware of dengue fever and be better protected against it.

  28. I read this story when it happened and it shocked me. I served my mission in Ecuador and missionaries would contract dengue fever all the time but no one ever died.

  29. This is so sad! this guy was so young! thank you for the post!


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