Weil's desease and wild swimming

what are the risks?

Compare what you have heard with the facts by answering this question:

Weil's disease is a severe form of leptospirosis, a type of bacterial infection. You can contract it if you come into contact with the urine, blood, or tissue of animals or rodents who are infected. It is a serious illness and in rare cases it even takes the life of its victims.

 

Click on the activity below that you feel carries the highest risk of catching the dreaded Weil's disease.

 
Which activity carries the greatest risk of catching weil’s disease? Dingy Sailing?
Which activity carries the greatest risk of catching weil’s disease? Fishing?
Which activity carries the greatest risk of catching weil’s disease? Canoeing?
Which activity carries the greatest risk of catching weil’s disease? Wild Swimming?
Which activity carries the greatest risk of catching weil’s disease? Rowing?
Which activity carries the greatest risk of catching weil’s disease? Picnicking?
 

 

 

 

 

Good try but not the right answer.

 

Click here to try again...

 

Correct! Those most at risk of the disease are those who are not involved in water sports.

So why are we so often told that river and lake swimming put as at high risk of the disease? It is certainly a very effective deterrent.

Check out the answers for yourself see:
 

 

Hung Out to Dry Swimming and British Culture page 106-7 regarding Weil's disease and the research of Dr Robin Philip an epidemiologist at the University of Bristol. The answer is based on his findings published in December 1991: Health Hazards Associated with the Recreational Use of Water.

 

How you catch leptospirosis - advice from the NHS

Leptospirosis is spread in the urine of infected animals – most commonly rats, mice, cows, pigs and dogs.

You can catch it if:

  • soil or freshwater (such as from a river, canal or lake) containing infected urine gets in your mouth, eyes or a cut – usually during activities like kayaking, outdoor swimming or fishing

  • you touch an infected animal's blood or flesh – usually from working with animals or animal parts

 

It's very rare to get leptospirosis from pets, other people or bites.

See a GP if you might have been exposed to infected urine and you have:

  • a very high temperature, or feel hot and shivery

  • a headache

  • feeling and being sick

  • aching muscles and joints

  • red eyes

  • loss of appetite

These are symptoms of leptospirosis.

Ask for an urgent appointment if you have:

  • yellow skin and eyes (jaundice)

  • swollen ankles, feet or hands

  • chest pain

  • shortness of breath

  • coughing up blood

 

You might have a serious infection that needs to be treated quickly.

Treatment from a GP

Your GP may prescribe antibiotic tablets to treat the infection. You should make a full recovery in a few days or weeks.

It's important to finish the course of antibiotics, even if you start to feel better.

Take paracetamol or ibuprofen to relieve any aches, pains or fever.

If you have a more serious infection, you may need to be treated in hospital.

Do

  • wash your hands with soap and water after handling animals or animal products

  • clean any wounds as soon as possible

  • cover any cuts and grazes with waterproof plasters

  • wear protective clothing if you're at risk through your job

  • shower as soon as possible if you've been in potentially infected water

  • check your dog is vaccinated against leptospirosis (there isn't a vaccine for people)

Don't

  • touch dead animals with your bare hands

  • drink water from places like rivers, canals or lakes that hasn't been boiled