HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Local doctors are alarmed after two men were diagnosed with a deadly form of leptospirosis known as Weil’s disease.
The bacteria attacks the organs causing them to rapidly shut down.
Looking at William Ching Wednesday - you’d never know the rare disease nearly claimed his life a few weeks ago.
The 44-year-old was hospitalized in January with kidney and liver failure after doing something he’s done all his life: walk by the river in his slippers.
“Yea, I had mud, but after you walk through the water - the thing wash 'em off. yea,” said Ching.
He says symptoms started about a week later.
“I wake up in the morning for go do my birds. And I felt my body kind of sore. But I didn’t think nothing,” said Ching. “Not knowing that was the start.”
Doctor Scott Miscovich says the disease is almost unheard of. In his thirty year career he’s only ever treated one case -- that is until last month.
"To have two cases in a matter of three weeks walk into my office for something this rare was really exceptional,” said Dr. Miscovich.
He says in its early stages symptoms of the disease can often mimic the flu, “You can get an upset stomach, you can throw up, you can get diarrhea, you can have muscle aches. Ninety percent of the people will develop a fever.”
Dr. Miscovich’s other patient is a taro farmer in Kahaluu who had to be hospitalized for a month.
“He had a prolonged course in the intensive care unit that included a full cardiac arrest. His heart had to be restarted and resuscitated,” said Dr. Miscovich.
In both cases doctors determined that the bacteria entered the patient’s body through a small cut on the foot.
“Anybody that has exposure to mud and standing water or potentially has ingested water from our fresh water streams, they need to be aware of this,” said Dr. Miscovich.
For Ching, his near death experience has prompted him to trade in his slippers for boots when he’s in the mud. And he shares these words of advice to people who think, “that’ll never happen to me.”
“No think you untouchable,” said Ching as he laughed. “When you least expect it - it can bite you in the ass.”