Weil’s Disease (Leptospirosis) can be a serious risk to anglers and in some (rare) cases can be fatal. The following description is taken from another web site and is provided for the information of members. Many anglers are now using the alcohol based hand cleaning gels available from Tackle Shops, Boots and ASDA to disinfect their hands prior to eating etc.
Weil’s disease is an infection carried in rats urine which contaminates water and banks of lakes, ponds and rivers. The disease, which is notifiable. is serious and requires hospital treatment. Symptoms start 3 to 19 days after exposure to contaminated water. Early symptoms are similar to ‘Flu’. So go see a doctor and and say that you have been near water that may be contaminated with Weil’s disease and ask the doctor  for a blood test to be carried out.
A few sensible precautions:

DO cover with waterproof plasters or gloves all scratches, cuts, sores and breaks in the skin. Disinfect any wounds as soon as possible if they occur whilst at the waterside.

ALWAYS wash your hands or cover food with a wrapper before you eat.

NEVER put your hand to your mouth after immersion in river water and never place bait or fishing line in the mouth.

DON’T touch any dead animal especially rats.

NEVER leave food, groundbait or bait on the bankside.



  •   An attack of Weil’s Disease resembles a cold or flu in the initial stages. The incubation period is from 3 to 19 days
  • Early Symptoms are: Fever, Muscular aches and pains, lost of appetite, nausea when lying down.
  • Later Symptoms may include: Bruising of the skin, Sore eyes, Nose bleeds, Jaundice.
  • The fever lasts for approximately five days, then a significant deterioration follows.
  • If untreated, Weil’s Disease can be serious and or become FATAL

If  you become ill a few days after a fishing trip, and you have any of the above symptoms, it is extremely important to contact your doctor as soon as possible. You must tell your doctor that you suspect Weil’s Disease, as many of them do not associate it with influenza symptoms without a helpful hint. Treatment with antibiotics is only effective if started rapidly after symptoms develop.

A blood test is conducted to determine the presence of Weil’s Disease, the Public Health Laboratory (PHL), receiving the test should perform an ELISA test for Leptospirosis. If in the United Kingdom, and the local PHL cannot perform and ELISA test, the sample should be sent to: The Leptospirosis Reference Unit, Public Health Laboratory, County Hospital, Hereford HR1 2ER. Telephone 0432 277707.

Note* This contact is for UK use only, by the doctor or PHL staff only.

Weil’s Disease is a notifiable illness in the UK and it is essential to disclose a confirmed case to the local Public Health office, who will need to know where you believe it was caught.