KANEOHE, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Russell Baptiste said when he went into the ocean at Kaneohe Bay on the morning of October 11, he got two small cuts, one on each leg. The diving spot was close to the channel that connects the bay to Kahaluu Lagoon where caution signs warn of wastewater bacteria.
"I didn't expect to get an infection or anything like that," he said.
Baptiste was in the ocean five hours. The cuts came from a rock and the reef.
"That night already it started to raise. It became a rash that fast," he said.
By the evening his legs were itching and red.
"It got real bad. It started to have pus, like little pimples. Then over the week it got worse and worse. They were huge. My legs started to swell up. I had a hard time walking," he said.
A doctor told Baptiste the infections were caused by bacteria from the ocean water that entered through his cuts. Last week the Health Department began warning people high levels of bacteria were found in Kahaluu Lagoon and the nearby channel that leads to the ocean. The bacteria may be from untreated sewage, possibly human waste. There are hundreds of cesspools nearby.
"From what I understand is they started the testing on September 18. By the time I got my infection that was on October 11, almost a whole month. I think they could have done a better job of warning the public about what's going on," Baptiste said.
The state said because there was no sewage spill, it needed a series of tests over time to confirm the high bacteria levels.
Antibiotics cleared up Baptiste's infection. He doesn't want others to have the same problem or worse. "Until the test levels show that it's safe to go in, I wouldn't get in the water because this infection was a painful one to fight," he said.