A Cautionary Tail

Leptospirosis, also known as Weil’s Disease, is an infection carried by some animals and passed on through their urine. It is widely associated with rats, but cattle and even dogs can carry the bacteria.
The presence of watercourses on sites are considered a risk indicator. That risk increases around more established rivers where rodent infestation is more likely. Other indicators include fields recently populated by cattle.
When working in these environments consider the risk of handling items temporarily stored there, e.g., tree shelters. A Tilhill contractor is thought to have become infected with a serious case of Weil’s disease this way.

Good hand hygiene is important when working in stores or outdoors. It is vital to keep cuts covered, consider if waterproof gloves are required to lower the risk. Take your rest breaks away from the work area and wash your hands before eating, drinking or smoking.
Stores are a common place where we might encounter rats, or at least handle goods and equipment that carriers of the disease may have been in contact with. Consider the risk of rodent activity in the store, especially if you store food sources such as seed, and use rodent-proof containers for the storage. Should you have an issue, consult a pest controller to help manage the rodents.


The symptoms of Leptospirosis/Weil’s Disease include:
• high temperature, or you feel hot and shivery
• a headache
• feeling sick (nausea), you’re being sick, or you have diarrhoea
• aching muscles and joints
• red eyes
• loss of appetite.

More serious symptoms require urgent medical treatment and include:
• yellow skin and eyes (jaundice)
• a rash
• being unable to pass urine
• swollen ankles, feet or hands
• chest pain
• shortness of breath
• coughing up blood.

If you feel unwell and suspect Leptospirosis, seek medical advice immediately and tell the medical staff you work outdoors and are concerned about Leptospirosis.

Tilhill has produced an updated ‘keep safe’ card detailing the symptoms of Leptospirosis. Please keep your card to hand. The cards will be distributed by our managers.