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Thread: Kayaking-related illness?

  1. #1

    Default Kayaking-related illness?

    Hi everyone,
    I wonder if anyone has experienced something similar after swallowing dirty river water please...for the past 9 weeks I have been incredibly tired and suffering from intermittent/unpredictable sickness and diarrhea. I have had tests done but nothing has come back from them, the doctor seems to have lost interest now it's not so straightforward but I cannot do my job or be active at weekends etc. like I usually am.
    Has anyone experienced anything like this please?
    Thank you!

  2. #2
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    Look up Weil's Disease, clinical name Leptospirosis. There's a specific test for it, but it's not very reliable and doctors don't always know about the symptoms, as it only affects people who have come into contact with dirty water, ie, drainage workers and paddlers. If there's chance you may have it, your doctor should prescribe strong antibiotics and not wait for the test result - if you have it, it needs treating without delay, and worth the downside of taking them unnecessarily.

  3. #3
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    What Chris said. Go to the doctor armed with info on Weil's, or ask to see a second doctor. It might not be, but better safe than sorry.
    Paddler,blogger,camper,pyromaniac: Blog: Wilderness is a State of Mind

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  4. #4
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    My thoughts exactly - speaking as a GP, a lot of GPs aren't very aware of leptospirosis, so go with info from British Canoeing (they used to do a good info sheet on it, don't know if they still do).
    Otherwise there's a wide choice of water/sewage-bourn bugs they should also consider if they haven't done so already.

  5. #5
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    Sounds like what we call 'beaver fever' , actually Giardia - it's a weird bug coz it's not a bacteria or a virus & difficult to see on tests unless you are specifically looking for it - it's a "protozoan parasite". I've had it... nasty.... Get tested for it.

  6. #6

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    Thanks so much everyone, that's really appreciated - I'll certainly look into leptospirosis and giardia and go back more prepared next time :-) Thanks so much!

  7. #7
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    A good mate had similar - GP thought it was alcohol induced liver damage. He was teetotal! It was leptospirosis.
    You don't stop playing because you get old - you get old because you stop playing.

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    I find it very sad that some doctors need to be led by the nose these days to find the correct diagnosis.

    Good luck and I hope you recover soon.
    Big Al.

    Only when the last tree has died
    and the last river been poisoned
    and the last fish been caught
    will we realise we cannot eat money.
    ~Cree Indian Proverb

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Big Al. View Post
    I find it very sad that some doctors need to be led by the nose these days to find the correct diagnosis.

    Good luck and I hope you recover soon.
    To be fair, its a bit of a niche diagnosis. Most GPs will go through their entire career without seeing a case, and its initial symptoms are very non-specific. And the range of illnesses that can be caught from dirty water is huge. It just depends on how dirty the water was and where.
    A good friend was ill for nearly a year after exposure to floodwater in the 2007 Sheffield floods. His illness was never diagnosed either, but considering he may have been exposed to anything from Hepatitis A to heavy metals that isn't surprising.

  10. #10
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    Ticks and Lyme disease might be another thing to consider and may have been on the river Bank?

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  11. #11
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    I totally agree with getting checked for Leptospirosis and that would be my first thought. But on a slightly different thought process, and for future reference, I know a lot of paddlers who drink cola when going river paddling to prevent against an upset stomach, even though they never drink it normally. I don't know if there is any medical reason for this, but a lot of paddlers do it. Perhaps Gordan G can shed some light on this?


  12. #12
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    Cola syrup is a traditional remedy to ease symptoms of nausea, but there is no clinical evidence that drinking coke/pepsi prevents gastroenteritis. It is just one of those cultural myths that has taken hold in the paddling community. The best prevention is keeping your mouth shut in the water and washing hands and face on leaving the water and before eating/drinking. (And after taking your drysuit off - lots of people forget that the suit has been in the water too, carefully wash their hands then drag their suit off)

  13. #13
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    Weils is a rare and very dangerous form of Leptospirosis which can lead to liver failure fairly quickly. If you have had symptoms for 9 weeks it is probably not Weils just now but could be another variant of Leptospirosis, and as I understnad it, could still develop into Weils. Although rare if you know paddlers long enough you will end up knowing several people who have had Weils, nearly all the people I know only got a positive blood test result after their doctor had started them on antibiotics, sometimes the positive result arrived after they had finished the antibiotics and recovered, so if the symptoms are at all similar this is one of the few times you should ask you doctor for antibiotics, because the blood test is so unreliable.

    GPs have to be able to preliminarily diagnose from thousands or hundreds of thousands of different diseases based on a 5 minute conversation with you, and then try to help you and/or arrange for further tests and diagnosis. You need to give them all the information you possibly can to help them narrow down the search but be careful not to make out you know better than them - being more aware of something like Weils because it is relevant to your hobby, doesn't make you better at diagnosing it. Mention the possibility and describe your symptoms as accurately as you can so they can cross reference and decide if it is plausible.

    If you do find out what ails you, please report back.
    I too have been feeling tired with intermittant stomach upsets (more constipated than diorrhea) for quite a few months now (not enough to stop me working, or paddling), which I have just put down to training too hard rather than an actual disease, but it is possible I have overlooked disease!

    How hard can it be?

  14. #14
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    Current BC alert about Weil disease (appeared on facebook today and I remembered this discussion)

    https://www.britishcanoeing.org.uk/n...thLFAQuYGwGp2I

    How hard can it be?

  15. #15
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    I know the general advice is good but I was surprised they didn't say where this was caught.

  16. #16
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    It could have been almost anywhere; there isn't necessarily any more risk where it was caught than anywhere else, so giving a location could put people off unnecessarily, or relax their guard elsewhere.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Adrian Cooper View Post
    I know the general advice is good but I was surprised they didn't say where this was caught.
    Somebody asked that on FB, the answer being that the paddler had travelled loads and paddled lots of rivers before diagnosis, so simply doesn't know.
    Paddler,blogger,camper,pyromaniac: Blog: Wilderness is a State of Mind

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