Beware: Ala Wai Water May Eat You Alive

Squeezed April 5, 2006

One word: Yecch.

When I read this story in today’s paper, it gave me the heebie-jeebies. A Honolulu mortgage broker, Oliver Johnson, is fighting for his life after a fall into the sewage-contaminated Ala Wai Boat Harbor gave him necrotizing fasciitis, otherwise known as the flesh-eating bacterium.

It reminded me of the story of a young five-year-old named Alyshia Shimizu who battled the same disease in 2000, though not under the same circumstances. She’s doing OK now, but will have to undergo skin grafts while she’s still growing.

Alyshia was lucky. Her case, which destroyed about a third of her skin, came about after a cut got infected. Johnson, however, fell into Germ Central on Friday, complained on Saturday about leg pain, was admitted to the hospital on Sunday and by Tuesday was on life support in severe septic shock. Johnson has already lost his left leg above the knee, and will likely lose the other leg and at least one arm.

Tourists: Even though the signs have been lifted, be really careful out there, and take a really good shower once you’re done swimming.

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