Diseases and Illnesses

Grad student rides the waves to research surfers’ bacteria

Grad student rides the waves to research surfers’ bacteria

UC San Diego chemistry graduate student Cliff Kapono has surfed waves all over the world, collecting body surface and fecal samples from fellow surfers to answer the question: Do those who surf in different oceans and seas have the same bacteria and/or chemicals?

An aggregate of microorganisms (including bacteria, fungi and viruses) inhabit the human body and, in some cases, are essential to its functioning. But there are other organisms living on humans that, whether or not they make people sick, are harmful.

“There have been studies that show people who recreate in the ocean are more likely (than those who do not), to become exposed to harmful bacteria,” Kapono told La...

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