Annandale golfing champ succumbs to leptospirosis

Three-time golf champion Imran Khan, of Courbane Park, Annandale, passed away on Monday evening, mere hours after being diagnosed with the bacterial infection, leptospirosis.

Khan, of Lot 39 Courbane Park, who would have celebrated his 52nd birthday exactly a week from the day of his demise, died around 7 on Monday evening, according to his wife, Parbattie Singh.

Singh related that Khan had awakened early Monday and began complaining about pain in his feet, which had rendered him immobile.

Despite having visited two doctors in the week leading up to his demise, it was not until he was taken to Woodlands Hospital around 6am on Monday that a doctor determined that Khan had leptospirosis.

Imran Khan

Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection that is spread through the urine of infected animals. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, infection usually occurs either through contact with the urine or contact with water, soil or food contaminated with the urine of those animals. The symptoms can sometimes appear flu-like or be confused with other diseases such as typhoid, dengue and viral hepatitis.

The bacteria can enter the body through broken skin or mucous membranes, which include the eyes, nose and mouth, while outbreaks are usually caused by exposure to contaminated water, like floodwaters.

Although several communities on the East Coast were flooded last month for about a week during a period of intense rainfall, Singh stated that they had not been badly affected.

It is possible, however, that Khan may have contracted the disease while fishing, which he had engaged in up to two weeks ago.

Although Khan was an avid golfer, this newspaper was told that the Lusignan golf course has been closed for the past three weeks because of water on the land.

According to the World Health Organization, the incubation period for leptospirosis is usually five to 14 days (with a range of two to 30 days) and only about 5% to 15 % of all cases progress to a more severe and potentially fatal stage.

Singh said that it was on Tuesday last that the man began displaying symptoms, including fever and vomiting. On Wednesday, she took him to a doctor at Success, on the East Coast, who issued him with three sets of pills, including Gravol, which is used to treat nausea and vomiting. The symptoms dissipated with the treatment.

Khan soon developed pain in the knees, however, and on Sunday, the day before he would pass, he was taken to another doctor, this time at Lusignan, where he was given an injection, which reportedly eased the pain temporarily, although he had difficulty walking.

“Yesterday morning (Monday) when he get up, he tell me the two foot hurting he…I lef he pon the bed and he start watch me, he seh he start get a bad feelings…he turn, he start perspire. So, I call he nephew. When I call he nephew, he nephew came with a taxi and we rushed him to Woodlands Hospital,” Singh recalled.

Khan was admitted to the hospital, where he began receiving treatment. But Singh related that by 5 o’ clock that afternoon, her husband had become unresponsive.

“About 5 o’ clock in the afternoon, I watch he… no response… it’s like he unconscious. Six… I wait until up to seven o’ clock in the afternoon, I go, I hold his foot, I hold his hand, I hold his mouth, I tell he tell me something. He ain’t give no response to me…,” she said.

It was not long after that her husband passed away.

The father of two, who worked as a mason, had made his mark in the local golfing fraternity, having won the Scotiabank Golf Tournament three times. Singh said that he had been playing the sport since he was a boy.

Members of the Lusignan Golf Club took to the group’s Facebook page after word of his passing spread to express their condolences.

Public Relations Officer William Walker posted, “It is with a heavy heart we report the death of Imran Khan who passed away yesterday at Woodlands Hospital. A former Guyana Open Champion, Imran was a terrific low single digit golfer and a formidable competitor at match play with an excellent short game. He was a gentleman on and off the course, quiet but always generous in sharing his winnings at the bar. He will be dearly missed. Our deepest condolences go out to his family.”

Speaking with this newspaper via telephone last evening, Lusignan Golf Club President Hilbert Shields, referring to Khan as a “fantastic golfer,” stated, “…As a golfing community and as a club, we’re deeply shocked and disappointed. He was a past champion and one of the better golfers at the club, a very good single digit handicapped golfer and a strong supporter of the club.”

Leptospirosis came to serious public notice in the wake of the 2005 Great Flood when a number of persons died from it.

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