Maui man diagnosed with flesh-eating infection
WAILUKU » State health officials confirmed a flesh-eating infection case at Maui Memorial Medical Center yesterday, said state health spokeswoman Janice Okubo.
Ron Lemay, 61, a former Massachusetts resident who was working as a landscaper on the Valley Isle, was in the critical-care unit at Maui Memorial Medical Center after being admitted on Tuesday for the streptococcus A infection, his brother John said.
Just how Lemay got the infection remains a mystery.
He was found unconscious on the court steps in Wailuku and has remained unconscious at Maui Memorial.
Dr. Scott Hoskinson said without treatment for a few hours longer, Lemay could have died.
He said Lemay appears to be improving, but physicians were forced to amputate his right leg below the knee.
Hoskinson said there appears to be no connection between Lemay's infection and a flesh-eating bacteria infection suffered in September by a Lahaina man.
John Lemay said he also did not know how his brother got the infection.
He said when he spoke to him by telephone about a week ago, he was fine.
John Lemay said he has been talking with the Star-Bulletin because he wanted people to be aware of the flesh-eating infection so that "it might save somebody else."
He said he appreciated the professional medical service at Maui Memorial.
"I sincerely believe that he is getting the best treatment available, and the nurses and staff have been outstanding," Lemay said.
Okubo said state officials are asking people who knew Ron Lemay on Maui to contact Maui Memorial so state disease investigators can try to find out the cause of the infection.
The last time flesh-eating cases were widely reported on Maui was in 2002, when three people died of the infection and three others survived within a three-month period.
Okubo said the occurrence of the infection on Maui was not unusual and that Maui has had several cases a year in the past, including 2004, when there were four cases confirmed on the Valley Isle.
She said that two deaths have occurred this year in the state out of 11 cases on Oahu, one case each on the Big Island and Kauai, and two cases on Maui, including Lemay and a Lahaina man whose left leg was saved by physicians.
The two deaths in 2006 took place on Oahu.
Okubo said that according to state experts, the infections rates were about 10 to 20 per 100,000 population.
"So we're well within the accepted rates," she said.
Necrotizing fasciitis develops from a common bacterial infection of Group A streptococcus found in the throat and on the skin.
Although most Group A streptococcus cases end up in mild illnesses such as strep throat, they sometimes cause life-threatening diseases such as necrotizing fasciitis.
There is no vaccine to prevent streptococcal infections such as necrotizing fasciitis, but people can reduce their risk by proper and immediate cleaning of all wounds, experts say.
To contact Maui Memorial about Lemay, the public may call the communications director at Maui Memorial at 442-5108.