Weils disease

A recent story on the news concerned canoeists from Southampton University catching Weils disease before Christmas on the river Itchen.
Remember to take precautions such as covering cuts and scratches and showering after river paddling.
As many of the symptoms are the same as for other diseases, diagnosis of Leptospirosis is based on clinical suspicion confirmed by laboratory testing of a blood sample.
There is a specialist reference laboratory for Leptospirosis in the UK, which can be consulted by doctors.

How soon after the exposure do symptoms occur?
Typically, symptoms develop seven to fourteen days after infection, though rarely the incubation period can be as short as two to three days or as long as thirty days.

How is Leptospirosis treated?
Leptospirosis is treated with antibiotics such as penicillin or doxycycline, which should be given early in the course of the disease.
Intravenous antibiotics may be needed for people with more severe symptoms.

Can Leptospirosis be prevented?
There is no human vaccine available in the UK that is effective against Leptospirosis.
For people who may be at high risk for short periods, especially through their occupation, taking doxycycline (200mg weekly) may be effective.

Ways to avoid contracting Weil’s disease are very simple:
Avoid capsize drill or “rolling” in stagnant or slow moving water, particularly where rat infestation is obvious.
Wash or shower after canoeing.
Cover minor cuts and scratches with waterproof plasters before getting in your boat.
Wear trainers or wetsuit boots to avoid cutting your feet.

What to do if you think you have been affected:
If you have flu-like symptoms after canoeing go to your GP and tell him/her you are a canoeist.
They may put you straight onto a course of anti biotics.

Please go to, for further details:- www.canoe-england.org.uk/about/water-quality/weils-disease-i-leptospirosis

More information can be found here: www.hpa.org.uk