Two lucky surfers dodge an outbreak of the six-foot flu and reap the rewards of a strong immune system. Photo: Catalano
Two lucky surfers dodge an outbreak of the six-foot flu and reap the rewards of a strong immune system. Photo: Catalano

The 8-Foot Flu

Doctors stumped by spike in flu-like symptoms during large winter swells

San Francisco, Calif. — Scientists the world over are baffled by the spread of a new flu-like virus, which appears to affect only those in coastal regions. Oddly, symptoms of the new flu have only been felt in areas with large surf communities, and even more odd, breakouts seem to occur only when local waves become daunting, reaching heights of 8 feet or more. Scientists researching the virus have dubbed it the “8-Foot Flu,” admitting that the flu’s origin is unknown and that its symptoms are hard to quantify.

When asked about the symptoms, Doctor Rick Barnhardt, who is based in Northern California, confessed, “It’s the strangest thing. All of a sudden, a large subset of surfers starts falling ill every time there’s a big winter swell. They’ll complain to friends about how bad their throat hurts. In some cases, they’ve reported an intense and mysterious ‘pain in their stomach.’ Often times their temperature is completely normal and their symptoms unnoticeable. To be honest, there’s no consistency, either. The only real consistent symptom I’ve come to find is anxiety. Just tons of anxious, ‘sick’ surfers.”

Surfers have long been notorious for calling in sick to work when waves in the 4- to 6-foot range show up accompanied by good conditions, but the 8-Foot Flu seems to have the opposite effect. When stricken with the 8-Foot Flu, the infected insist on taking time out of the water, but often still manage to go to work. There is no known cure at present, although symptoms strangely seem to disappear when the waves decrease in size.

“It’s the virus. It’s not like I’m scared of big waves or anything,” said South Australia’s Jim Hammon, before launching into an overly-dramatic coughing fit. “You see what I mean? Damn this disease! My phone has just been getting flooded by text messages from my friends saying how good it’s been. I’d love to be surfing with them now, but this sickness just has me beat.”

Luckily the virus doesn’t affect all surfers, as it appears that some have a natural immunity to the 8-Foot Flu. When asked about the sudden decrease of surfers in lineups following an outbreak in South Africa, local Ethan Roberts said, “It’s strange, don’t you think? That every time the waves get well overhead, half your friends have fevers or sore throats or nausea? And it’s always the same guys. I haven’t caught the flu once.”

Infected patients have been reported in coastal areas of Ireland, Costa Rica, Mexico, throughout Indonesia and the South Pacific, and elsewhere. Thankfully, Dr. Tommy Marko, of Cocoa Beach, Florida says there have been no reports in his region.

When asked about the epidemic, Hawaiian local Johnny Keanu said, “Ho bra, you mean the 4-Foot Flu?”

Though no outbreaks have been reported in Brazil itself, doctors there are deeply concerned with the high percentage of Brazilian-born surfers complaining of symptoms while traveling outside the country.

[Editor's note: "Corndogging" is a satirical column in which we take serious surf issues, dunk 'em in the ocean, and roll them around in the sand for awhile.]