Like to Hike? Dr. Wasden MD Explains Harmful Bacteria in Hawaii’s Freshwater

Like to Hike? Dr. Wasden MD Explains Harmful Bacteria in Hawaii’s Freshwater

In Hawaii we are exposed to so many beautiful sights. From sparkling beaches to breathtaking waterfalls, Hawaii is a piece of paradise. However harmful things can linger in our jungles and on our hiking trails. 

Dr. Wasden explains one of the dangers that lurks in our fresh water streams and waterfalls. See what to look for and when to seek out help at Island Urgent Care. 

Dr. Wasden MD

While hiking to Hawaii’s waterfalls and streams you may see warning signs advising on the dangers of Leptospirosis. Leptopsira is a bacteria native to warm tropical climates, and Hawaii accounts for 50% of all cases reported in the United States annually. Leptospira ends up in Hawaii’s freshwater streams and waterfalls through the urine of animals living in their drainage basins where it can live for months in the warm mud and streams. 

To prevent infection avoid freshwater streams, waterfalls, and mud altogether. If you are an adventurer and just can’t stay away, avoid diving or submersing your head as the bacteria can enter your body through mucus membranes such as the eyes, nose, or mouth. Open wounds are also a preferred gateway for bacterial entry.

If you must work in mud or fresh water, protect yourself with proper boots, long sleeved clothing, and goggles. Leptospira can cause a wide range of nonspecific symptoms which can mimic other illnesses, like the flu. Most patients will develop a fever. Other symptoms may include headache, muscle aches, chills, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, or a rash. Most patients recover with antibiotic treatment but organ failure such as liver failure(jaundice), kidney failure, or meningitis is a risk. Be sure to let your physician at Island Urgent Care know if you have been exposed to any of Hawaii’s freshwater streams and waterfalls, or if you have been working in mud.



  • Avoid freshwater steams, waterfalls, and mud
  • Wear protective long sleeved clothing and goggles
  • Do not expose open wounds
  • fever
  • headache
  • muscle aches
  • chills
  • diarrhea
  • vomiting
  • abdominal pain
  • rash

Treatment: Seek help from a physician at Island Urgent Care. Most cases are resolved with antibiotics. 

CLICK HERE to learn more about Dr. Wasden MD and other great physicians that work at Island Urgent Care


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