Medical Q&As

Weil's disease - vaccine?

Should employees who work constantly in rivers, lakes and canals be vaccinated? If so what should they be vaccinated against? Is there any vaccination against Weil’s disease or is there any being developed?

People who work in the environments you describe should have received all of the vaccines that are on the schedule for primary immunisation i.e. tetanus, polio etc. In addition they should also be protected against hepatitis A and B. Weil’s disease, which you also enquire about, is due to infection with a bacterium of the Leptospira genus. The disease is also called leptospirosis and the infection is acquired through exposure to contaminated rat urine. Therefore people working in water that is populated by rats are at risk. There are many strains within the leptospira genus and effective immunisation would require a vaccine that contains all the strains that are prevalent in a particular geographic region. The implication of this is that it would not be possible to produce a universal vaccine that would be effective in all countries. In effect each region would have to produce a vaccine appropriate to the strains that are prevalent in that region. To the best of my knowledge there is no such human vaccine available.