Leptospirosis

There is a danger of contracting an infection called Leptospirosis while fishing the river.

The infection is commonly transmitted to humans by allowing fresh water that has been contaminated by animal urine to come in contact with unhealed breaks in the skin, eyes or with the mucous membranes. Leptospirosis is transmitted by the urine of an infected animal, and is contagious as long as it is still moist. Although rats, mice and voles are hosts, a wide range of other mammals including dogs, deer, rabbits, hedgehogs, cows and sheep are possible transmitters.In most cases the infection causes a flu-like illness and severe headaches. The severe form of the disease (Weil’s disease) causes jaundice and liver damage and carries a reported death rate anywhere between 4-40% which would bring the annual membership of the KAA down to around 200 I would imagine. However only about 10-15% of affected people suffer this more dangerous form. Leptospirosis starts about 10 days (it can vary between 7-12 days) after infection with the bacteria, and may be so mild as to be unsuspected. In more severe cases it starts suddenly with:

  • headache
  • fever
  • chills
  • severe muscle aches and tenderness
  • redness of the eyes
  • loss of appetite
  • vomiting
  • sometimes a skin rash

Well it could be argued the symptoms are every similar to ones you might get when the old ball n’ chain starts talking about the kitchen shelves or even painting the back bedroom. However considering the amount of rats I have seen while fishing on the Kelvin (along with the other wildlife) I think taking the following precautions would be prudent:

  • Do not drink the water
  • If you have any open wounds (cuts in your hand) make sure they are covered by a plaster – might be worthwhile carrying some plasters with you.
  • Best not to splash your face with water on a hot day I would imagine.
  • If you cut your hand while fishing might be best to head home and thoroughly disinfect it.
  • If you notice any symptoms get yourself along to the GP as soon as possible.