KERRE Morris-Beverstock loves a good paddle, but she believes her most recent outing in the Georges River left her with a crippling heart condition.
Ms Beverstock has taught yoga at Oatley RSL for the past seven years and said that until May she was extremely fit and active.
But this changed after she swallowed several mouthfuls of water when she fell into the river while trying out a new surf ski at Picnic Point.
‘‘About five or six hours after swallowing the water I started to vomit and I vomited all that weekend,’’ Ms Beverstock told the Leader.
‘‘That Monday I woke up achy. My GP thought I had the flu.’’
She saw another GP about a week later who noticed she had high blood pressure and was breathless.
She was referred to cardiologist Rajesh Brahmbhatt who diagnosed pericarditis, an inflammation of the fluid-filled sac that covers the outer surface of the heart.
The North Shore Heart Foundation website says the condition can occur following an infection or virus.
Dr Brahmbhatt said while he could not be sure Ms Beverstock’s heart problem was caused by swallowing the river water, he believed it could have contributed to her condition.
Almost three months after the incident, Ms Morris-Beverstock, of Panania, said she was slowly feeling less breathless, but on a bad day struggled to walk around the block.
She wanted to tell her story to warn others.
‘‘[The river] is so dangerous,’’ she said.
‘‘This is the last thing I thought would happen.’’
She said that given she had no family history of heart disease and had become ill so soon after swallowing the water, she was convinced river contamination had caused her illness.
She said she would never again paddle in the Georges River but was determined to get back out on the water.
‘‘I think I’ll be trying Port Hacking or Cronulla,’’ Ms Morris-Beverstock said.
The director of South Eastern Sydney Local Health District’s Public Health Unit, Mark Ferson, said while there had been no health complaints received about the water quality of the Georges River, anyone with concerns was welcome to contact the department.
‘‘Public Health Unit staff are available if the person, or their cardiologist, wishes to discuss their concerns about the possibility of infection acquired from the Georges River,’’ Professor Ferson said.
River report card
The most recent report card on the health of the Georges River produced by the Georges River Combined Councils Committee found the mid-catchment of the river, from Fairfield to Sutherland, had a poor level of overall health. The report, which examined the river over autumn last year, looked at markers such as water quality and the health of vegetation along the river bank. It attributed the poor state of the mid-catchment to stormwater, urban and industrial run-off and the fact the riverbank has become more urbanised. The report does not monitor public health conditions in the river