Trevor Hardie could have been dead in days.
The 70-year-old Dunedoo pub owner caught a deadly infection from the mice plaguing NSW, leaving him in hospital with acute kidney failure, liver failure and a leaky heart valve.
Leptospirosis is caused by leptospira bacteria, which is found in urine from infected animals including rats, mice, cattle, pigs and dogs.
The bacteria can enter the body through skin cuts or abrasions or through the lining of the mouth, nose, and eyes by exposure to water, soil or mud contaminated with the urine from infected animals.
“I couldn’t walk, I’d sweat all night, my kidneys and liver packed it in … it was the sickest I’d ever felt in my life, I wouldn’t wish it on anybody,” Mr Hardie told The Daily Telegraph.
“All it takes is to have (mice) scurrying around in a shed, grain silo, or a home, they pee everywhere and you touch it somehow … it knocked me off my feet for weeks.
“Everybody’s doing their bit and battling hard in the bush, we’re making sure houses and shops are clean, our guests are OK, but people need to be careful.”
Mr Hardie also had Q virus, another bacterial infection causing fever and flu-like symptoms.
In NSW there has been a 700 per cent increase in leptospirosis cases, with 42 confirmed cases since the start of 2021, compared to just six last year.
Queensland is even worse off, reporting 78 cases of leptospirosis this year, compared with only 41 cases at the same time last year.
Symptoms may include fever, headache, muscle aches, chills, vomiting and red eyes and can develop about 14 days after becoming infected.
“Symptoms can be similar to the flu so often it can be difficult to recognise and can be mistaken for other diseases,” Professor Keith McNeil, a spokesman for Queensland Health, said.
“Serious disease such as meningitis, kidney failure, bleeding and respiratory complications can develop from leptospirosis infection if it’s not treated promptly, so it’s important to see your doctor immediately if you suspect you have had exposure to contaminated water, soil or mud, and develop these symptoms within a week or two.
“While leptospirosis is treatable with antibiotics, early diagnosis is still the key.”
Agriculture workers are most at risk, but people also need to be careful about drinking or swimming in creeks, rivers or lakes contaminated by the urine of infected animals. Waters affected by heavy rain or flooding are especially risky.