Health challenges on research and cruise ship expeditions to Antarctica

Authors

  • Travis Heggie School of Human Movement, Sport, and Leisure Studies, Bowling Green State University, Ohio, USA
  • Thomas Küpper Institute of Occupational and Social Medicine, RWTH Aachen Technical University, Aachen / Germany

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.55225/hppa.387

Keywords:

Antarctica, expedition, cruise ship, injury, illness, death

Abstract

Antarctica is one of the last great wilderness areas on Earth. Early Antarctic expeditions during the Heroic Age of Antarctic discovery (1895–1922) returned reports of frostbite, scurvy, snow blindness, and death. Today, over 50,000 people travel to the Antarctic each year via research expeditions, commercial cruise ships (tourism), and research cruises. This study reviewed the existing research reporting the health challenges encountered during modern day travel to Antarctica. The results identified a transition from the Heroic Age when death was common to a contemporary time when death is an uncommon event. The review identified musculoskeletal and soft tissue injuries resulting from moving equipment and supplies to be the most common health challenge encountered by long-term land expeditions. Digestive issues such as constipation and dyspepsia were also common in during the coldest months. For tourist oriented commercial cruise ships, motion sickness resulting from rough seas was most prominent. Specifically, the small nature of the cruise ships made them prone to rough seas in Drakes Passage. During scientific cruises where research is primarily conducted aboard the ship, dermatological conditions (viral, fungal, bacterial) such as dry skin, dry lips, eczema are the most common health challenge. Musculoskeletal and soft tissue injuries are also common given the physical challenge associated with strenuous research.

Downloads

Download data is not yet available.

Alekseev I, Abakumov E. The content and distribution of trace elements and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in soils of Maritime Antarctica. Environ Monit Assess. 2020;192(11):670. doi: 10.1007/s10661-020-08618-2. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10661-020-08618-2   Google Scholar

Alekseev I, Abakumov E. Content of trace elements in soils of Eastern Antarctica: Variability across landscapes. Arch Environ Contam Toxicol. 2021;80(2):368-388. doi: 10.1007/s00244-021-00808-4. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00244-021-00808-4   Google Scholar

Taylor D, Gormly PJ. Emergency medicine in Antarctica. Emerg Med. 1997;9(3):237-245. doi: 10.1111/j.1442-2026.1997.tb00394.x. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1442-2026.1997.tb00394.x   Google Scholar

Curry CH, McCarthy JS, Darragh HM, et al. Could tourist boots act as vectors for disease transmission in Antarctica? J Travel Med. 2002;9(4):190-193. doi: 10.2310/7060.2002.24058.   Google Scholar

Dahl, E. Medical cruise challenges in Antarctica. J Travel Med. 2014;21(4):223-224. doi: 10.1111/jtm.12118. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/jtm.12118   Google Scholar

Bledsoe GH, Brill JD, Zak D, Guohua L. Injury and illness aboard an Antarctic cruise ship. Wilderness Environ Med. 2007;18(1):36-40. doi: 10.1580/06-weme-or-029r.1. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1580/06-WEME-OR-029R.1   Google Scholar

Prociv P. Health aspects of Antarctic tourism. J Travel Med. 1998;5(4):210-212. doi: 10.1111/j.1708-8305.1998.tb00509.x. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1708-8305.1998.tb00509.x   Google Scholar

Guly HR. Frostbite and other cold injuries in the heroic age of Antarctic exploration. Wilderness Environ Med. 2012;23(4):365-370. doi: 10.1016/j.wem.2012.05.006. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wem.2012.05.006   Google Scholar

Guly HR. Snow blindness and other eye problems during the heroic age of Antarctic exploration. Wilderness Environ Med. 2012;23(4):77-82. doi: 10.1016/j.wem.2012.05.006. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wem.2011.10.006   Google Scholar

Pattarini JM, Scarborough JR, Sombito VL, Parazynski SE. Primary care in extreme environments: Medical clinic utilization at Antarctic stations, 2013–2014. Wilderness Environ Med. 2016;27(1):69-77. doi: 10.1016/j.wem.2015.11.010. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wem.2015.11.010   Google Scholar

Tejedo P, Benayas J, Cajiao D, Leung Y-F, Filippo D De, Liggett D. What are the real environmental impacts of Antarctic tourism? Unveiling their importance through a comprehensive meta-analysis. J Environ Manage. 2022;308:1-16. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2022.114634. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvman.2022.114634   Google Scholar

Curry CH, McCarthy JS, Darragh HM, Wake RA, Todhunter R, Terris J. Could tourist boots act as vectors for disease transmission in Antarctica? J Travel Med. 2002;9(4): 190-193. doi: 10.2310/7060.2002.24058. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2310/7060.2002.24058   Google Scholar

Ikeda A, Ohno G, Otani S, Watanabe K, Imura S. Disease and injury statistics of Japanese Antarctic research expeditions during the wintering period: Evaluation of 6837 cases in the 1st–56th parties: Antarctic health report in 1956–2016. Int J Circumpolar Health. 2019;78(1):1-8. doi: 10.1080/22423982.2019.1611327. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/22423982.2019.1611327   Google Scholar

Bhatia A, Pal R. Morbidity pattern of the 27th Indian Scientific Expedition to Antarctica. Wilderness Environ Med. 2012;23(3):231-238. doi: 10.1016/j.wem.2012.04.003. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wem.2012.04.003   Google Scholar

Bhatia A, Malhotra P, Agarwal AK. Reasons for medical consultation among members of the Indian Scientific Expeditions to Antarctica. Int J Circumpolar Health. 2013;72:1-3. doi: 10.3402/ijch.v72i0.20175. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3402/ijch.v72i0.20175   Google Scholar

Lugg D, Gormly P, King H. Accidents on Australian Antarctic expeditions 1977–1985. Polar Record. 1987;23(147): 720-725. doi: 10.1017/S0032247400008457. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0032247400008457   Google Scholar

Cattermole TJ. The incidence of injury with the British Antarctic Survey, 1986–1995. Int J Circumpolar Health. 2001;60(1):72-81. doi: 10.1080/22423982.2001.12112999. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/22423982.2001.12112999   Google Scholar

Cattermole TJ. The epidemiology of cold injury in Antarctica. Aviation Space Environ Med. 1999;70(2):135-140.   Google Scholar

Cattermole TJ. Snowmobile injuries in Antarctica, 1989–1996. Int J Circumpolar Health. 1997;56(4):152-158.   Google Scholar

Cattermole TJ. The epidemiology of skiing injuries in Antarctica. Injury. 1999;30(7):491-495. doi: 10.1016/s0020-1383(99)00139-4. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0020-1383(99)00139-4   Google Scholar

Heggie TW, Heggie TM. Death at sea: Passenger and crew mortality on cruise ships. Int J Travel Med Glob Health. 2020;8(4):146-151. doi: 10.34172/IJTMGH.2020.25. DOI: https://doi.org/10.34172/ijtmgh.2020.25   Google Scholar

Visser JT. Patterns of illness and injury on Antarctic research cruises, 2004–2019: A descriptive analysis. J Travel Med. 2020;27(6):1-6. doi: 10.1093/jtm/taaa111. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/jtm/taaa111   Google Scholar

Merefield DC, Beckham J. Cardiac arrest in Antarctica: A successful outcome. J Travel Med. 2016;23(3):taw015. doi: 10.1093/jtm/taw015. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/jtm/taw015   Google Scholar

Lamberth, PG. Death in Antarctica. Med J Aust. 2001;175(11-12):583-584. doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2001.tb143734.x. DOI: https://doi.org/10.5694/j.1326-5377.2001.tb143734.x   Google Scholar

Russell KW, Imray CH, McIntosh SE, et al. Kit skier’s toe: An unusual case of frostbite. Wilderness Environ Med. 2013;24(2):136-140. doi: 10.1016/j.wem.2012.11.013. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wem.2012.11.013   Google Scholar

Bovard RS. Injuries to avian researchers at Palmer Station, Antarctica from penguins, giant petrels, and skuas. Wilderness Environ Med. 2000;11(2):94-98. doi: 10.1580/1080-6032(2000)011[0094:itarap]2.3.co;2. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1580/1080-6032(2000)011[0094:ITARAP]2.3.CO;2   Google Scholar

Schutz L, Zak D, Holmes JF. Patterns of passenger injury and illness on expedition cruise ships to Antarctica. J Travel Med. 2014;21(4):228-234. doi: 10.1111/jtm.12126. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/jtm.12126   Google Scholar

Downloads

Published

2022-07-01

How to Cite

Heggie, T., & Küpper, T. (2022). Health challenges on research and cruise ship expeditions to Antarctica. Health Promotion & Physical Activity, 19(2). https://doi.org/10.55225/hppa.387

Issue

Section

Review article

Most read articles by the same author(s)

1 2 > >>