Earlier this year, a troop of Boy Scouts in the US beat off a rabid beaver that was attacking their leader (I wonder if there’s a badge for that). Boy Scouts and infectious diseases are in the news again, but not with as happy a story.
In the recent incident reported on ProMED, ten Boy Scouts that attended a camp on the banks of the Semois River in Belgium developed leptospirosis – a potentially severe bacterial infection caused by Leptospira bacteria. The bacteria are shed in the urine of a variety of animal species, and people can become infected through contact with contaminated water or animals. The boys reported having played with a rat, which was likely actually a muskrat, based on the description of its size.
Three of the boys were hospitalized. Hopefully all are on the way to recovering.
This is yet another reminder that wildlife should be left alone. It’s possible the boys were infected from the environment, but handling a muskrat (which was presumably sick if they were able to get that close to it) certainly increases the risk of exposure to a variety of infectious diseases.
Image of a North American muskrat (photo credit: Linda Tanner)(click image for source)