Obtained from Steve Witzig (written by Quinn Long)

A personal account of a Columbia paddler diagnosed with Leptospirosis

Hello local paddlers,

Take leptospirosis seriously. I paddled Hinkson and Cedar creeks with steve, greg, dustin, ray and ryan after that late august storm [Aug. 2000]. Two weeks later I began getting aches and fevers. I went to Boone County [hospital] and they dismissed my 104.5 temp as the flu. I went to my parents place to deal, but it kept getting worse. Within a few days I was in the ER in Washington, MO with a 106 fever, spasms, rashes, vomiting, hellish head and body aches etc. Luckily the head ER doctor was an old family friend who took things very seriously and contacted specialist involved with the CDC. They began treating me with numerous iv antibiotics and anti viral since they had no idea what to treat. Within a day pneumonia set in and that night I went into respiratory distress (o-sat levels down to 83), my heart, which was drowning in fluid, had a pulse in the low 40’s. I was transferred to St. Johns in St. Louis ICU to do a tracheal and plunk me on the respirator, but my descent stabilized in the ambulance. After several weeks in the hospital and many more elsewhere, I am completely healthy. The infectious disease specialists tell me that if Ii hadn’t been so healthy to start, or if treatment were further delayed I’d likely be dead, or at least weaning myself off of the respirator and dialysis. Leptospirosis is called Weil’s disease in it’s more serious secondary onset such as mine. The less severe cases can go unrecognized for a year or more. The testing for this disease is real advanced and I the cause of my illness was unknown until last week. I didn’t test positive until antibodies were found after my recovery. I was unsure of where I contracted it, until I read this email from Renee. If you get seriously ill after boating, remember this. DOXYCYCLINE is the preferred treatment for the illness. I hope I’m the only one who came down.

Stay well,
Quinn Long