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Safety Alert - Weil's Disease

Weil’s disease (Leptospirosis)

British Canoeing can confirm we have had a report of a confirmed case of Weil's disease around Holme Pierrepont and the River Trent during December 2019. 

Paddlers are always advised to be vigilant and ensure that they notify their GP should they become ill following paddling. 

Please find below some helpful information:

Weils Disease (Leptospirosis)

All water users should be aware of this potentially fatal infection.

This is a bacterial infection normally believed to be spread by rat urine, though can also be transmitted by cat, fox and rabbit urine. Transmission is usually through an open wound or abrasion but can also be coursed by ingestion of contaminated water.

Symptoms are lethargy, diarrhoea, headaches, vomiting and muscle pain; sometimes referred to as flu like symptoms, if untreated can be fatal.


Prevention measures against water borne infection are:

  • Cover all cuts and abrasions with waterproof plasters.
  • Always wear footwear to avoid cutting the feet.
  • Avoid capsize or rolling practice in suspected waters.
  • Where possible shower soon after the activity
  • As a minimum always wash your hands after paddling and before eating or drinking

If you feel ill after paddling you should tell your Doctor as soon as possible and let them know where and when you have been on the water. 

The NHS publish the following guidance:

Further information and support is available when required by contacting:

[email protected]