Weil's Disease - Rat Urine Disease

Weil's Disease - Rat Urine Disease

Weil's Disease - Rat Urine Disease

Rats are well known for spreading disease. Weil's disease is transmitted in rats' urine and so it is often caught by people who work with substances which could be contaminated. Sewer workers and spa pool maintenance people are at a high risk. This is because sewer water and outdoor hot tubs can often contain rats' urine. Other workers at risk are fisherman, pest control experts, miners and butchers. People who spend time in freshwater such as lakes, canals and rivers for recreational or professional reasons are also at risk.

Weil's disease is a form of leptospirosis but is more severe. This is a bacterial infection caused by the bacteria from genus Leptospira. Normally it causes only mild symptoms of flu, including headaches and a temperature. Unfortunately, severe presentations can include bleeding and organ failure.

Leptospirosis can be spread to people from water or soil which has the urine from certain animals contaminating it. These include pigs, rats, dogs, reptiles, amphibians and cattle. Rats and other types of rodents are the main source of infection for people. Vets and farmers are at higher risk of catching the disease. It can be treated easily with antibiotics. Sometimes if severe the condition can result in admission to hospital.

Infection occurs when the bacteria contacts the nose, mouth, eyes or cuts on the body. Consuming water contaminated with the bacteria also causes the disease. Severe disease occurs when the other organs of the body are affected. These include the heart, kidneys, lungs, liver and brain.

Symptoms include;

  • Aching
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Appetite loss
  • Cough


If the heart, liver or kidneys are affected then other symptoms include;

  • Jaundice
  • Swelling
  • Abdominal pain
  • Breathlessness
  • Reduced urine output
  • Tachycardia


If the brain is affected then the symptoms may include;

  • Confusion
  • Aggression
  • Drowsiness
  • Seizures
  • Loss of motor control
  • Photophobia


Diagnosis is with a urine or blood test.

This article should not be treated as medical advice. Make sure you visit your doctor if you are affected by any of the issues in this article.

Dr Toby Bateson for HammerTechnologiesLtd.com