What is leptospirosis?
Leptospirosis is a type of bacterial infection spread by animals, caused by a strain of bacteria called leptospira.
Most cases of leptospirosis only causes mild flu-like symptoms, such as headache, chills and muscle pain.
However, in some cases the infection is more severe and can cause life-threatening problems, including organ failure and internal bleeding (Weil’s disease).
Two types of leptospirosis infection can affect workers in the UK.
Weil’s disease is a serious and sometimes fatal infection that is transmitted to humans by contact with urine from infected rats.
The Hardjo form of leptospirosis is transmitted from cattle to humans.
Can leptospirosis be prevented?
If you have an occupation where you come into contact with animals (particularly rodents) or sources of contaminated water, such as farming or working with sewers or drains, wear adequate protective clothing. This could include waterproof gloves and boots, goggles and a mask.
Get rid of rats; don’t touch them with unprotected hands.
Wash cuts and grazes immediately with soap and running water and cover all cuts and broken skin with waterproof plasters before and during work.
HSE – Leptospirosis – Are you at risk? (INDG84)