Information About Weil's Disease (Leptospirosis)



Weil's Disease (Leptospirosis) can be contracted by coming into contact with water or sewerage that is contaminated with urine from affected rats. Another form is contagious from cattle, less commonly pigs and sheep. The microbe responsible for the disease usually enters through unprotected cuts and scratches. If you need to work in areas where you may be exposed to this danger i.e. areas where rats are likely to have been or may be encountered, reduce the risk by:

  • Cleaning; 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 this work;
  • Washing your hands and forearms after you have finished the work and before eating, drinking or smoking

If you have been working in an area where you may have contracted Weil's disease and you develop flu- like symptoms, consult a doctor immediately. The early sign of Weil's disease are fever, headache and chill -- very similar to influenza, followed by vomiting and muscle pains and ultimately jaundice, meningitis and kidney failure.


  • To avoid harm to yourself or others: You could be affected by Weil's Disease if you are splashed in the face with contaminated water and you swallow it or if it enters through a cut in your skin.
  • If you think you have been infected: Go to your doctor immediately and show him the Leptospirosis card you have been issued with.


  • Wear protective clothing when entering any area where contamination may occur.
  • Ensure you use disinfectant / soap and water on scratches, cuts and abrasions before starting work.
  • Make sure that all new scratches, cuts and abrasions are covered with waterproof dressings. Report these to your site manager so they can be recorded.
  • See your doctor if you develop flu-like symptoms -headache, fever and chills.
  • Dispose of food scraps in a closed bin and clean up after eating.


  • DON'T handle the carcasses of dead rats or other small mammals.
  • DON'T leave food lying around.
  • DON'T drink contaminated water.


  • Cover all cuts and broken skin with waterproof plasters prior to starting work.
  • Avoid rubbing your nose, mouth, and eyes with your hands.
  • If you get cut or scratched whilst working in a ditch, wash the wound as soon as possible, and cover with a waterproof plaster /dressing.
  • On no account should the wound be sucked.
  • Keep an eye on the wound to make sure it is healing correctly.
  • If you have been working in an environment where rats are, or likely to have been present or near stale water, wash your hands and forearms thoroughly with soap and warm water.
  • Wash hands after taking off contaminated clothing and boots and always before eating, drinking or smoking.

This is just a fact sheet to make you all aware of the disease that can be spread by rats and the symptoms of the disease. There have been no reports of the disease, but because there will be rats present in the ditches/gardens/waste land surrounding the Allotments, there will a very minor, minor chance of you being affected. This is to make you aware that there are rats about and not to attract rats on to the plots by putting cooked food into compost heaps.