Andy Irons was a three-time world surfing champion who could conquer any wave, but the 32-year-old Hawaii native succumbed to complications from dengue fever.
The news shocked and saddened the surfing world and made clear the danger posed by a disease that is nearly unheard of in the states.
Symptoms include high fevers, rashes, headaches and fatigue. It is rarely deadly and usually goes away on its own after a week. But a related disease, dengue hemorrhagic fever, is very dangerous. Victims can go into a shock-like state and spots of blood appear on and under the skin. Doctors can only treat the symptoms, not the underlying virus. If patients survive the early shock, they typically survive.
From news reports, it is not yet clear what form of dengue fever Irons had or what complications caused his death.
Irons won three straight world titles from 2002 to 2004, according to Bloomberg, and was the only surfer to win at every spot on the elite tour.