The Importance of wearing gloves when checking a trapline
I’ve been trapping for around 6 years, most recently as a volunteer for my local trapping group as well as maintaining traps around my home. I absolutely love being part of this awesome trapping community that is helping our native species!
I really don’t want to put anyone off trapping by writing this as you all do such a fantastic and hugely important job. But I do want to help prevent someone getting sick if I can.
Several months ago I contracted Leptospirosis – A bacterial disease that is largely present in rodents and cattle. It can have all sorts of nasty consequences and for me it’s taken a good few months to come right. It’s still not entirely clear where I got it from. It could’ve been from contact with an infected pest animal, but it could’ve also been from contact with contaminated floodwater as I do a lot of kayaking, particularly on rivers. In the course of doing trap lines, I know people can get exposed to both. With the recent flooding around the country there has been a spike in the number of cases – particularly in the areas worst affected. With a changing climate, I think it’s likely that Lepto will become more prevalent and so we need to remember the basic health and safety steps to prevent illness when working outdoors, and especially around flood water or dead animals.
If you get diagnosed for Lepto shortly after displaying symptoms and get started on antibiotics straight away, then you usually don’t get that sick. But if it takes a while to get diagnosed then it can affect kidney function and be a pretty nasty thing to have. In my case everyone thought I had the flu, and it wasn’t until almost two weeks had passed that it was confirmed as Leptospirosis.
I always thought I was pretty careful when trapping, but I probably wasn’t as careful as I could’ve been. I usually wore gloves, but not always. So, my advice would be to pay considerable attention to hygiene while trapping and think twice before getting too close to a waterway if there has been recent heavy rain. If you do become ill and have flu-like symptoms, mention leptospirosis to your doctor, and also say that you do pest control work. As a basic rule – ALWAYS wear your gloves when handling the traps or any catches and remember to wash your hands immediately after. Carrying some hand sanitiser in your pack is a good idea for when you’re out on the line. You’ll want to it before touching your drink bottle or phone and transferring germs to either.
Take care out there and keep up the good work ✌