Big Island man treated for flesh eating bacteriaUPDATED 10:39 PM HST Sep 26, 2013Video Transcript
rise in Hawaii. Good evening, I'm Kenny Choi, Yunji de Nies has the night off. KITV4's Brenton Awa has the story of one man who's recovering tonight after the disease killed tissue throughout his entire leg. Brenton? Kenny -- it's called necrotizing fasciitis... The disease quickly eats away at the layer between your skin and muscles -- and in some cases can lead to death. Doctors on the Big Island say they've come across about 6-7 patients with the disease -- last month alone. Stuck in the hospital -- Steve Johnson recalls what led to him losing flesh from his leg. 1:28 "I SPOT THIS LILIKOI ON THE SIDE OF THE ROAD, HAHAHA." He laughs about it now -- but his doctor at the HIlo Medical Center said he wasn't that way when he came in three weeks ago. 59:55 "HE WAS ACTUALLY TOUCH AND GO FOR THE FIRST FEW DAYS, WE HAD HIM IN THE INTENSIVE CARE UNIT AND THESE TYPES OF INFECTIONS CAN JUST OVERWHELM THE BODY." Johnson scraped his leg while trying to get that Lilikoi. He was on his way to a hot spring at Ahalanui Park in Kapoho. 200 "IT WAS BLEEDING A LITTLE BIT SO I HAD TO CLEAN THAT OFF." But bacteria found its way in. Possibly from his dip in the pond. 24-hours later -- he came down with a 104-degree-fever -- and noticed a change of color throughout his leg. 449 "IT WAS RED AND HOT AND WHAT THEY CALL CELLULITIS." Two days later -- his leg got so bad -- he finally went to the hospital. 317 "IT WAS DOING IT'S DIRTY WORK UNDERNEATH ALL THE TIME AND THEY FINALLY GOT ME INTO SURGERY AND FORTUNATELY THEY SAID I GOT THERE BEFORE IT HIT THE MUSCLE." Doctors removed the dead skin and tissue before it was too late. Johnson will spend another week in this room before being let out. But Health officials warn that these cases happen -- and it's not just in the water... If you have a break in your skin -- it can happen to you anywhere certain bacteria live. If you're tissue gets infected... 200 "ON THE SURFACE YOU DON'T SEE A LOT BUT WHEN YOU TOUCH THE WOUND OR TOUCH THE AREA, IT'S SO PAINFUL." And it might not be as rare as we think. 5:18 "THE PREVALANCE OF THIS NECROTIZING FACIITIS SEEMS TO BE SIGNIFICANTLY INCREASING OVER THE PAST FEW YEARS." 4:00 "THEY SAY THEY'VE HEARD THESE STORIES BEFORE, IN FACT THEY SAY THEY'VE BEEN DOING ABOUT THREE TO FOUR OF THESE PER MONTH." Meanwhile a spokesperson for Hawaii County told us that it closed Ahalanui Park today after hearing about this incident and it will work with the state to have water tests done.