The draw of the water, the peace and tranquility, the fresh air. We humans can’t resist it. But there’s another, somewhat smaller creature that can’t resist the water either. And it’s one we think you should be aware of.
Leptospirosis, also known as Weil’s Disease, is the little creature in this case. Luckily, it’s easy to avoid if you use some common sense principles. It’s not particularly common. Of the millions of visits to the waterways, recorded cases are in the region of 50 to 100 per year – but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take simple steps to avoid it.
By keeping it in mind, and preparing for it, you’ll be able to avoid the torrid experience of a kayaker last November. After feeling a bit achey, the kayaker’s symptoms worsened over the course of a few days and ultimately ended up on dialysis and in intensive care.
Whenever someone working on the canal bank, or is likely to come into contact with the water, joins the Trust they're given this card to carry with advice on preventative measures, it’s easy to follow and also applies to boaters, canoeist/kayakers and anyone else who comes into contact with the water:
As well as obviously unhooking fish, anglers come into contact with water regularly enough to be aware of Weil’s and its effect, but here’s some extra points to remember on your next fishing trip:
A simple rule is if, at any time, you get your hands wet then play it safe and wash them as soon as you can or have a nearby bottle of hand santiser at the ready. The same principle goes if you have an unexpected dunking – get out of your wet clothes and shower as soon as you can.
If you do start to feel unwell – and you can find a full list of symptoms on the NHS website, though it usually starts with flu-like symptoms – make sure you get seen by a medical professional and tell them that you’ve been around canal water.
By following the above you’ll drastically reduce your chances of catching Weil’s Disease and enjoy the all the health and wellbeing benefits of spending time on or by our wonderful waterways.
Last date edited: 1 November 2019