Beachcomber’s foot infected
The Waikiki regular suspects sewage bacteria, but a doctor doubts that sand was the source
Bacteria in the sand along Waikiki Beach could be to blame for a 65-year-old man's foot infection, a Straub Clinic & Hospital doctor told the Waikiki resident.
George Koenig went to the hospital on Friday with a red, swollen foot, four days after walking along Waikiki Beach with his metal detector and apparently sustaining a small cut.
A Straub doctor told Koenig -- who says he does not remember getting cut on his walk -- that he had a bacterial infection from the sand at Waikiki Beach.
Koenig and his wife, Christine, believe the bacteria came from the more than 50 million gallons of sewage dumped into Waikiki beaches and the Ala Wai Canal in late March.
"This is horrible," Christine Koenig said. "The water is swept over the sand. The bacteria are still in the sand."
But Dr. Alan Tice, a leading infectious-disease specialist in the islands, said he is not convinced that the bacterial infection could have been caused by the sewage.
It is unlikely that staphylococci -- the bacteria often blamed for infections -- could live in the sand for so long.
And, he said, bacteria can be found everywhere, including on the human body. "It's not nearly as dangerous to be on the beach as to use doorknobs," Tice said.
He also said that if Koenig's infection was caused by bacteria found in sea water, then it would be more likely -- but still not certain -- that it was related to the sewage dumps.
Christine Koenig said she is not sure what type of bacteria were found in her husband's infected foot.
She did say that he is on antibiotics and painkillers.
The swelling and redness have not gone down since Friday, but also have not spread. If his foot is not better by Wednesday, Koenig was told to return to the hospital.
Meanwhile, Christine Koenig said she has asked her husband not to return to the beach.
He has been combing sand with his metal detector for 12 years but pledged to give up the hobby until the state starts testing sand along Waikiki for bacteria. Currently, the state Department of Health does not run tests on sand, spokeswoman Janice Okubo has said.