Leptospirosis is a bi-phasic illness. Flu-like symptoms are followed by a recovery phase. If the disease progresses to a severe secondary phase, often referred to as Weils disease, can lead to multi-organ failure.
Early diagnosis and swift treatment with antibiotics is essential.
The disease is carried by many mammals, it is commonly assocated with rats.
Recorded cases of Leptospirosis are rare, averaging around 45 cases per year in the UK. A literature review suggests significant under diagnosis.
Many doctors never encounter a case within their career, so it can be off their radar when you present to them with flu-like symtoms.
Some populations are at a significantly higher risk of infection. If you train regularly in water, you and your collaegues fall into this category.
As someone who has spent a fair bit of time around the water (and recently experienced lepto first hand) take it from me, it’s not nice! I also know three other people who’ve had it, another swiftwater instructor and 2 kayakers. All had to take a year off work to recover.
How do you know if you’ve got it?
If you find yourself developing flu-like symptoms following training, go to your GP and explain your concerns. Common sypmtons include: profound muscle aches, high temperature, splitting headache and exhaustion.
Many organisations including the Environment Agency, provide high risk workers with wallet cards to assist diagnoses if they fall ill. Please feel free to print cards from the examples below.
Single card – To the Doctor – Single
Multiple cards – To the Doctor – Multiple
You can reduce the hazard by covering cuts, wearing gloves and using caution regarding training venues.