Weil's disease (medical name leptospirosis) can be contracted by coming in contact with water or sewerage that is contaminated with urine from affected rats

Another form is contagious from cattle, and less commonly pigs and sheep. The microbe responsible for the disease usually enters the body through unprotected cuts and scratches.

If you need to work, or intend to take part in leisure activities such as canoeing, boating or swimming, in areas where you may be exposed to this danger, i.e., areas where rats are likely to have been or be encountered, then reduce the risk by:

  • Ratcleaning; disinfecting and covering cuts, scratches and abrasions with waterproof adhesive dressings before you start work in the area;
  • wearing protective clothing including rubber gloves and boots while undertaking the work;
  • washing your hands and forearms after you have finished the work and before eating, drinking and smoking.

If anyone has been working in an area where they may have contacted Weil’s disease and they develop flu-like symptoms, advise them to consult a doctor immediately.

The early signs of Weil's disease are fever, headache and chill - very similar to influenza.

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