Hawaii Hep A patient says disease left him 'profoundly exhausted - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Hawaii Hep A patient says disease left him 'profoundly exhausted'

(Image: Hawaii News Now) (Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now) (Image: Hawaii News Now)
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Dr. Danny Takanishi is a professor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa's John A. Burns School of Medicine and also works at the Queen's Medical Center.

And in July, he became one of the first Hawaii residents to be diagnosed with Hepatitis A as part of an outbreak that's now sickened at least 168 people.

He said he noticed something was off on July 10, when he started experiencing a fever and muscle aches. He thought it was the flu.

"That lasted for about two days and after that, the fever subsided, the muscle aches subsided and I was just profoundly exhausted," he said. "It was just so difficult just getting out of bed in the morning. Getting out of bed, walking down the hallway -- those things were just extremely difficult. I can't describe how tired I felt. It was just exhaustion."

More than one-fourth of those who have fallen ill with Hepatitis A have required hospitalization. Takanishi wasn't one of them. In fact, he said he experienced relatively mild symptoms.

But even a mild case of Hepatitis A is serious.

He says he's lost more than 10 pounds since being diagnosed. And after two weeks of feeling unbelievably tired, he developed jaundice.

The cancer surgeon says he rarely gets sick, so he was very surprised when he tested positive for Hep A.

"I actually didn't have all of the symptoms. I didn't have abdominal pain. I didn't have bad nausea. I wasn't vomiting," he said.

"What I did was I forced myself to drink a lot of liquids to basically flush it out of the system and that may have been why I didn't have the typical skin and eye coloration," Takanishi said, explaining why he didn't turn noticeably yellow while he was experience jaundice.

On average, it takes about a month for a person who was exposed to the virus to start experiencing symptoms, but it can take as long as 50 days.

Takanishi says he spent more than an hour on the phone with the state Health Department answering 15 pages of questions about what he ate and where he went as far back as May 21.

"My personal opinion, not based on scientific fact, I think that it may have to do with frozen ahi," Takanishi said.

Specifically, Takanishi says he ordered ahi nigiri sushi from an eatery, though he won't say where. He believes he contracted Hep A while dining out in mid-June.

Takanishi says none of his patients are at risk because he happened to be on leave for several weeks prior to his suspected exposure.

"Of course, in my case I took the hard way, so I'm immune for life," Takanishi said. "But looking back in hindsight, even if it's not recommended routinely for health care workers, I should have gotten immunized at the first report of Hepatitis A in Hawaii."

Five weeks after his diagnosis, Takanishi says he's feeling much better.

He says Hep A is generally not a lethal disease, but it is a preventable one. Health officials say getting vaccinated and good hand-washing are the best ways to stay safe.

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