Water safety

Water-borne disease

​Please take a moment to reading this information regarding water safety and water-borne disease.

While the risk of contracting water-borne disease from recreational water is very small, the potentially serious nature of some disease means that rowers must be aware of the dangers and should take simple, routine precautions to reduce the risk of infection.

Weil’s disease, also known as Leptospirosis, is rare in Britain with around 40-50 cases reported each year, however the disease does kill one or two people every year. It is carried by water organisms, so those taking part in water sports can be at risk. In the early stages Leptospirosis can be mistaken for flu so if you have any concerns please do seek medical advice.

Best action is to avoid

To avoid contamination from water-borne disease, we advise that the following steps be followed:

  • If contaminated water has been swallowed, refer to your doctor with full details of the incident.
  • Only drink from your own water bottle. This should have a covered lid and be kept in your hatch to protect it from splashes.
  • Always shower after submerging with the water.
  • Wash hands thoroughly and shower if necessary before eating or drinking.
  • Cover cuts and abrasions (including blisters) with waterproof dressings.\
  • Wear suitable footwear when launching or retrieving a boat, particularly if it is necessary to wade into the water to prevent direct contact with the water and protect the feet from cuts and abrasions.
  • Do not splash river water onto your face or body to cool down (take a bottle of tap water with you for this)
  • Hose down equipment after outings to remove any potential contamination
  • Keep oar handles clean particularly if contaminated with blood
  • Wash, and thoroughly dry, any contaminated clothing before re-use
  • Maintain your immunisation regime against Tetanus

​Spotting early symptoms

​The early symptoms are similar to "flu" including a temperature, severe head-ache and muscle pains (especially in the calf muscles).

Other symptoms include conjunctivitis and/or jaundice. If your daughter experiences any of these symptoms within 3 weeks of taking part in water activities you should see your doctor and request a blood test for Weil’s disease, tell them you have been involved in water sports and show them this information.

What to do if you think you have symptoms?

  • Early diagnosis and treatment is important.
  • If you develop flu-like symptoms after rowing go to your GP and say that you are a rower.
  • Leptospirosis is treated with antibiotics which should be administered early in the course of the disease.

Further information from British Rowing