‘Steve Redgrave’s gold medal partner killed by rats’ disease: Rower dead in days from water-borne illness . . .’
That was the headline I read in a 2010 newspaper about Steve Redgrave’s rowing partner, Andy Holmes, dying of Weil’s disease. Another story warned of deadly bugs lurking inside our dishwashers, and a killer strain of E.coli in vegetables. It got me thinking about the unseen hazards associated with detecting! The World Health Organisation described the strain of lethal bacteria that killed 18 people in Europe as ‘very rare’. Britain reported seven cases. And now we have all the potential dangers of COVID-19.
Weil’s Disease: The Facts
- Weil’s disease is usually caught through contact with soil or water contaminated with animals’ urine
- Catching it is comparatively rare – with 50 to 80 cases recorded in Britain annually. Most make a complete recovery but some die.
- The disease starts like flu but can go on to cause liver and kidney failure. Even though it can cause jaundice, organ failure and internal bleeding it can be sometimes be cured with antibiotics
In 2000 an outbreak of E.coli affected 18 scouts attending a camp in Scotland and a young girl living on a Banffshire farm girl sadly died. Shouldn’t you also be aware? After all, when detecting, you often come into contact with sheep droppings and cowpats. Indeed, cowpats were thought by officials to be an E.coli death trap. The biggest risk of infection (ROSPA concluded) was from animal poop contaminating vegetables. The message for us is to steer clear of cowpats.
Why it’s important to wash your hands
That’s why we wash our hands after using the toilet and before we eat. There is plenty of bad bacteria around and a lot of it is in the soil we detect. E.coli is just one example … and I haven’t even considered all the pesticides and chemicals that may be present on the fields you search.
Why it’s important to wear gloves
Wearing protective gloves and washing your hands is even more important in these pandemic days. I wash my hands many times a day whilst singing two rousing chorus’s of Happy Birthday’ In my head, of course! Don’t want to upset the two girls who are in lockdown with me.
Call me a wimp, but I felt positively undressed if I forget to wear gloves. Shouldn’t you? In the good old days when out swinging I always used adequate protection.
My mate Dave was given a reminder recently why he usually wore gloves when detecting. The day he didn’t wear them proved quite traumatic. His hand scraped across an old piece of glass and became infected resulting in a tetanus injection and a great deal of pain. That was a timely reminder of the hidden dangers! He now carries a spare set of gloves in the car AND carries a small container of anti-bacterial hand gel!
I’ve read quite a few on-line bits of advice for ‘newbies’ on the clothes they should wear when detecting. I was aghast to read the following piece of advice from a well-known detectorist:
“I personally don’t wear gloves while out metal detecting, a lot of my friends in the detecting world do. I probably should too. I’ve just always been someone who likes to see my hands dirty after a hard days work.”Anon
You know it makes sense
Our macho and well-meaning friend says that there are few benefits to wearing gloves but, in a Trumpian statement, goes on to say that the main advantage is ‘safety’. That encompasses everything, then! So can we include protection from the handling of sharp metal, glass and other nasties.
Remember, Leptospirosis, also called Weil’s disease, is an infection you can catch from animals. It’s rare in the UK. As Nick Ross used to say at the end of Crimewatch,”Don’t have nightmares, do sleep well.” I echo that famous catchphrase. The usual salutation in communications now are “Take Care and Be Safe.”
Borrow the wife’s gardening gloves if you can’t afford a £10 pair to accompany your £2000 metal detector. Oh, and avoid those doo-doos! You know it makes sense!