While coming into contact with animal waste is all in a day’s work for farmers, it’s not something to be taken lightly, especially during winter. A small amount of contaminated urine can cause leptospirosis, an infectious disease with a potentially high risk to people and animals.
Who’s at risk? Anyone working close enough to farm animals to be splashed or sprayed with urine or urine-contaminated water. Cuts, sores, and skin grazes increase the risk of infection, as does licking your lips and eating or smoking before washing and drying your hands. Your farm dogs, pets, and stock could also be at risk.
What’s the best way to manage it? Leptospirosis is hard to get rid of so minimisation is best. Make sure you’re on top of antibiotic treatment, vaccination programmes, making staff aware, supplying protective gear, and promoting hygiene practices. For more advice, visit WorkSafe.
What are the symptoms? If you’re affected by leptospirosis, you might not feel any different or it could feel like a bad case of the flu. Severe cases can result in permanent complications with some people unable to return to farming.
Think you’ve been splashed?
dry off urine splash immediately then wash the area
wash your hands and face well with soap and water, taking special care with facial hair, then dry well
flush out your mouth and eyes, and any exposed skin with lots of running water
wash out fresh or old cuts and grazes with water and disinfectant, and dry well
tell a supervisor, and if you think you’ve been exposed, call your doctor. Tell them leptospirosis may be the cause of your illness because some doctors might not be familiar with the symptoms.