It was a harmless fall that almost ended in disaster. Jette Bach (55) fell during a downpour in Thisted (Denmark) at the end of July. The rain was so heavy that it could not drain away and the gully overflowed. In this heavy rain, she took a wrong step and fell off the sidewalk. She opened one knee in the process.
The wound healed quickly. But ten days later she became seriously ill. On August 6th, she developed a headache and aching limbs. Her condition deteriorated so much that her partner Lars Hansen called the emergency doctor. She came to a hospital. Lars Hansen: “Your heart stopped there. She had no pulse. ”She was resuscitated and admitted to the intensive care unit. Their organs failed. In the end, the hospital had to put Jette Bach into an artificial coma. Her lungs stopped working and the family prepared for a difficult farewell several times.
A big mystery was: what illness did Jette Bach have? Even after numerous blood tests, the doctors could not find a cause. Then the doctor sat down with Lars Hansen and questioned him. What has been unusual lately? Did something happen? Then Hansen remembered falling from the sidewalk in the downpour. And the doctor shouted: “We have it! Rat urine! “
The doctor was right, and thanks to the right antibiotics, Jette Bach came back to life. She is now so healthy that she can go into rehab. Lars Hansen told the newspaper “Ekstra Bladet”: “I never would have thought that a small scratch could trigger so much.”
Dangerous rat urine
When Jette Bach got a scrape when she fell in heavy rain, she fell into dirty water. Rat urine had come to the surface with the water from the drainage system. Rat urine is contaminated with leptospira, a type of bacteria. Leptospira are widespread, but only enter the human body through small wounds. There they trigger the rare disease leptospirosis. 90 percent of those infected have hardly any symptoms, ten percent become seriously ill with flu-like symptoms. You have a high fever and organ failure can occur.
The disease used to be known as “mud or harvest fever”. Because field workers often fell ill after working in the field after heavy rain. The muddy earth was contaminated with the leptospira from the urine of field mice and hamsters.
Today the disease is considered extremely rare. There was an outbreak in Lower Saxony in 2014, when 55 harvest workers from 30 strawberry farms fell ill. They had been working in the fields after heavy rains. In Germany, between 37 and 166 cases per year have been reported to the RKI since the turn of the millennium.