Students have been advised to avoid swimming in the Cam after Weil's disease was reported in the Cambridge communitySimon Lock

Post-exam-period swimming in the Cam has long meant repressing worries about pollution in order to enjoy the water. 

Robinson College’s nurse, however, has warned students not to ignore these fears. 

In an email sent around the College last Monday (20/06), she advised students not to enter the river due to fears over leptospirosis, better known as Weil’s disease. 

According to the email, the disease, which is rare in the UK, has been reported in the Cambridge community. When contacted for comment, she indicated that the fears over the disease originated with Corpus Christi's college nurse.

Leptospirosis is waterborne, and is spread when urine from infected animals comes into contact with a person’s mouth or eyes, or a cut.

As a result, leptospirosis is usually spread by activities - including outdoor swimming - which risk exposing people to water contaminated by this infected urine. 

The symptoms of Weil’s disease include a high temperature, a headache, nausea, aching muscles and joints, bloodshot eyes, and a lack of appetite. 


Mountain View

High levels of faecal bacteria found in River Cam

Most people recover from leptospirosis relatively quickly, sometimes aided by a course of antibiotics. 

In her email, Robinson’s nurse encourages students to see their GP if they have any of these symptoms and are worried that they have been exposed to the disease. 

Although she acknowledged that not everyone who swims in the Cam will get sick, when contacted by Varsity she pointed out that a number of people have recently become ill seemingly as a result of exposure to the river.

She also stressed that she didn’t want to “spoil people’s fun”, but that it is best for students “to be aware of [the] current state of risk” so that they can make informed decisions - and maybe reconsider that refreshing dip after all.