An investigation has been launched after an animal shelter volunteer contracted and died from a bacterial infection.
Public Health England is investigating after a case of leptospirosis in Northamptonshire was reported to them.
A volunteer from Nanna (Northamptonshire Animals In Need of Nurturing and Adoption) in Irthlingborough contracted the disease, a type of bacterial infection spread by animals, and has since died.
A statement from Public Health England (PHE) said: “Public Health England (PHE) East Midlands has been notified of a case of leptospirosis in Northamptonshire, sadly the person who contracted the infection has died and our thoughts are with the family at this time.
“PHE is working closely with Northamptonshire County Council and East Northamptonshire Council to investigate the source of the infection and will take any necessary public health actions as required.”
Dr Samia Latif, consultant in public health, said: “Leptospirosis is an infection caught through contact with urine from infected animals (mainly rodents, cattle and pigs) carried in water or soil.
“The bacteria enter the body through abrasions or cuts in the skin and through the lining of the nose, mouth and eyes.
“Early symptoms include flu-like symptoms, vomiting, high temperature, headache and muscle pains.
“The infection can be treated with antibiotics and most people will make a full recovery.
“However in some cases the infection is more severe and can cause life-threatening problems, including organ failure and internal bleeding.”
The spokesman added that with any case such as this, both PHE and the local authority look at all possible sources of infection as part of the investigation.
A spokesman for East Northamptonshire Council said: “East Northamptonshire Council is involved in an investigation following a case of leptospirosis in the district, reported to us by Public Health England.
“The individual was a volunteer at an animal shelter in Irthlingborough as well as attending Moulton College.
“As a result of this investigation, a court order has been sought which requires that public access to Northamptonshire Animals in Need of Nurturing and Adoption (NANNA) is restricted.
“Investigations are ongoing.”
To ensure the safety and welfare of volunteers and the public, the court order included the following measures which have been carried out:
- Robust pest control in place
- Removal of waste from across the site
- Improved welfare provision for the volunteers
- Welfare information provided to volunteers by PHE
- Public access limited to the front part of the site only
The East Northants Council spokesman added: “The risk to the visiting public is minimal and the risk to volunteers is being managed by Public Health England.”
Anyone in contact with fresh, surface waters such as canals, ponds or rivers, or with rats or soil that cattle or pigs have walked through are advised to follow simple precautions to reduce the risk of contracting leptospirosis.
- Cover cuts, scratches or sores with a waterproof plaster and thoroughly clean cuts or abrasions received during activities
- Wear appropriate protective clothing, gloves or protective footwear
- Wash or shower promptly after water sports, especially if you fall in
- Avoid capsize drill or rolling in stagnant or slow moving water
- Wear thick gloves when handling rats
- Wash hands after handling any animal, and before eating
For more information on leptospirosis, go to https://www.gov.uk/guidance/leptospirosis or http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/leptospirosis/Pages/Introduction.aspx.