Weils Disease and fishing


Leptospirosis is also known as field fever, rat catcher's yellows, black jaundiceand pretibial fever is an infection caused by bacteria of the Leptospira. Symptoms can range from none to mild headaches, muscle pain,bleeding from the lungsas well asmeningitis. If the infection causes the person to turn yellow and suffer from kidney failure and bleeding it is then that it is known as Weil's disease. If it causes lots of bleeding from is transmitted by both wild and domestic animals. The most common animals that spread the disease are rodents (especially rats,mice, and moles) although the list of potential carriers is large, dogs, deer, rabbits, hedgehogs, cows, and sheep are all potential hosts. Area's of most concern are muddy riverbanks, lakes, ditches, stagnant ponds, gullies. There appears to be a direct correlation between the amount of rainfall and the incidence of leptospirosis, making it seasonal in temperate climates as found in the UK, France, Ireland and Scotland. It is often transmitted by animal urine or contracted from water containing animal urine. Contact with breaks in the skin, the eyes, mouth, nose or vagina will allow Leptospirosis to enter the body. In the developing world the disease mostly affects farmers and poor people who live in cities. In the developed world it mostly occurs in those who partake in outside activities, fishing, canoeing etc.

According to British rowing association the risk of contracting Weil's disease from recreational water in the UK is very small. Infection is logically more likely in slow-moving or stagnant water and areas where agriculture and rodents mix; lakes, ponds and canals are more likely to be contaminated than fast-running streams, although some activities, angling for example, where minor cuts and nicks are common, and swimming, where some water will almost inevitably enter the mouth could heighten exposure. Accurate diagnosis by a doctor would be by growing the bacteria from a blood sample, finding its DNA in the blood, or looking for antibodies against the infection. Efforts to prevent the disease include protective equipment to prevent contact when working with potentially infected animals, washing after this contact, and reducing rodents in areas people live and work. The disease was first described by Weil in 1886 in Germany. Animals who are infected may have no symptoms, mild symptoms, or severe symptoms. The disease is not known to be spread from person to person. As anglers we are at risk of contracting Weil’s Disease as is anyone who's lifestyle brings them into direct contact with potentially disease carrying water.

Weils desease infection cycle

Precautions to take against Weils Disease

Symptoms of Weil's Disease


After an incubation period that can vary from three days to three weeks, most patients suffer severe headaches, red eyes, muscle pains, fatigue, nausea and a temperature of 39C or above. In roughly a third of cases there is a skin rash and sometimes hallucinations. In very severe cases, symptoms include haemorrhaging from the mouth, eyes and internally. Significant and rapid organ damage, renal failure, liver and kidney failure can occur within 10 days, leading to jaundice. Hospitalisation, followed by antibiotics and often kidney dialysis will be required if the patient is to survive. Recovery can take months. Anyone experiencing flu-like symptoms after contact with fresh water should see their doctor immediately.