A father suffered kidney disease and sepsis after showering in lake water he believes was infected with rat urine on holiday.
Anthony Wright, 48, from Rye, became ill with Weil’s Disease, an infection caused by a corkscrew-shaped bacteria spread through animal urine, after cooking food and showering in water pumped directly from the lake while on a fishing trip in France.
Carpet fitter Anthony became ill when he returned home from the fishing holiday in May last year, eventually being rushed into hospital.
Anthony was left ‘scared and embarrassed’ after being tested for HIV and AIDS while baffled doctors battled to establish the cause of the illness that he still has not recovered from.
Anthony, who has two sons and two step-sons, said: “We were on a fishing holiday, staying in tents and using the facilities at a wood cabin on site for meals and showers. We didn’t realise there was no mains water and it was all being pumped from the lake into tanks. There was a sign advising not to drink the tap water but we’d been cooking, washing our pots and showering in it.
“The place was alive with rats. When you got in your tents at night you could just hear them all running around.”
The weekend after he returned home, Anthony, 48, began to get flu-like symptoms.
He added: “I was playing a game of cricket and started feeling freezing cold even though it was 60 degrees. By the Wednesday, I couldn’t walk. The doctor came out, she put it down to flu, but by the Friday night I was in hospital feeling really rough. I had sepsis and acute kidney disease.
“The doctor said if I’d waited another couple of days my kidneys would have been damaged beyond repair.”
After having his blood tested for all manner of conditions including HIV and hepatitis, doctors diagnosed him with leptospirosis, which is also known as Weil’s Disease.
Rare in the UK with less than 40 cases reported in England and Wales every year, the infection can cause life-threatening problems such as organ failure and internal bleeding.
Anthony said: “All my family thought I was going to die. I was off work for six months and, as I’m self-employed, I didn’t get a penny. I still have days off now with fatigue and doctors say I could be affected for years.
“I’ve never been off in 15 years, I’m just not the sort of person who has days off.”
Anthony’s wife Amanda said her husband tries to stay upbeat but she fears he will never recover from what happened.
She said: “He really doesn’t understand the severity of it and tries to stay positive. But he still has mood swings and suffers with depession now.
“It’s affected us all as a family. At the time the two younger boys struggled because they couldn’t see him in hospital and even when he came home they asked me if they could go near him or would they hurt him.
“He was such a fit and well man, it was so hard to see. A very independent strong man reduced to someone struggling to hold his head up, I was having to put him on the toilet and lift his legs to get him into bed he was so weak.
“He looked like he had given up, he didn’t eat for days. It’s been tough for him not being able to provide for his sons.”
Amanda, who said she feels like she’s on a ‘depressive roundabout’ and ‘living in the unknown’ said the ordeal has affected him physically and mentally.
Despite everything, Anthony said it has not put him off his hobby.
He said: “I’ve been fishing since I was five and even this isn’t going to put me off.”
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