Flu symptoms masked nearly lethal infection

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Two nearly lethal cases of leptospirosis suffered by two Windward Oahu men have Dr. Scott Miscovich sounding the alarm about prevention.

His two patients were infected through small wounds on their feet, one, while walking through mud in his slippers on a farm. The other was working barefoot in a taro patch. Both were hospitalized and nearly died from an aggressive form of leptospirosis known as Weil’s disease. 

Each man thought he only had the flu.

Dr. Miscovich says prevention is the key.

“Having some type of rubber boots would be recommended if you are actively and commonly in that, in a work environment.”

For outdoor recreation, socks, boots and other covered footwear are helpful in avoiding infection while hiking or merely walking through muddy areas or standing water.

Leptospirosis is commonly spread through the urine of infected pigs or rats, and they are prevalent throughout the islands.

Miscovich encourages medical professionals to ask patients with these symptoms if they have been exposed to fresh or standing water outdoors, whether swimming, hiking or just walking, or whether they may have ingested it. Early diagnosis and treatment is crucial to preventing more serious illness. 

After exposure, it takes 7 to 10 days for symptoms to develop.

Left untreated, leptospirosis can be deadly, But Dr. Miscovich says it is preventable, and if caught early, easily treatable.
 

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