Shrewsbury Canoe Club
Weils Disease/ Leptospirosis
Leptospirosis is a disease caused by bacteria which infect a variety of wild and domestic animals and which can spread via the animals’ urine.
How can river users become infected?
Water contaminated by infected urine can enter the body through cut or damaged skin, and can also pass across damaged or intact mucous membranes, and the eyes.
What are the symptoms?
Leptospirosis can cause a wide range of symptoms, although some infected people appear healthy. It is an acute biphasic illness. In the first phase the infection spreads into many tissues, including the brain. Some cases may be asymptomatic in this phase or may present with onset of a flu-like illness, a severe headache, chills, muscle aches and vomiting. In some cases, an immune phase may return with a return of fever, jaundice (yellow skin and eyes), red eyes, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, or a rash. In more severe cases (Weils Disease) there may be failure of some organs, e.g. the kidneys, or meningitis. Generally, cases will recover within two to six weeks but some may take up to three months.
As many of these symptoms are the same as for other diseases, diagnosis of Leptospirosis is based on clinical suspicion confirmed by laboratory testing of a blood sample
How soon after the exposure do symptoms occur?
Symptoms can develop from 2 to 30 days after infection but the typical period is7 to 14 days after infection.
How is Leptospirosis treated?
Leptospirosis is treated with antibiotics which should be given early in the course of the disease.