The gloves are on . . . or are they?

Steve Redgrave’s gold medal partner killed by rats’ disease: Rower dead in days from water-borne illness . . .’

That was the headline I read in a 2010 newspaper about Steve Redgrave’s rowing partner, Andy Holmes, dying of Weil’s disease. Another story warned of deadly bugs lurking inside our dishwashers, and a killer strain of E.coli in vegetables. It got me thinking about the unseen hazards associated with detecting! The World Health Organisation described the strain of lethal bacteria that killed 18 people in Europe as ‘very rare’. Britain reported seven cases. And now we have all the potential dangers of COVID-19.

Weil’s disease is usually caught through contact with soil or water contaminated with animals’ urine

Are you one of those who habitually use your mouth as a coin cleaner or eat your sandwich without washing your hands first? Are you a cavalier detectorist who boasts that you have never met anyone who has subsequently died, think it’s all a scare story and have never met a farmer who wears gloves when muck-spreading? Then my advice is to beware and maybe think twice. Picture shows Andy Holmes and Steve Redgrave showing their medals from the 1988 Olympics.

Weil’s Disease: The Facts

  1. Weil’s disease is usually caught through contact with soil or water contaminated with animals’ urine
  2. Catching it is comparatively rare – with 50 to 80 cases recorded in Britain annually. Most make a complete recovery but some die.
  3. The disease starts like flu but can go on to cause liver and kidney failure. Even though it can cause jaundice, organ failure and internal bleeding it can be sometimes be cured with antibiotics

In 2000 an outbreak of E.coli affected 18 scouts attending a camp in Scotland and a young girl living on a Banffshire farm girl sadly died. Shouldn’t you also be aware? After all, when detecting, you often come into contact with sheep droppings and cowpats. Indeed, cowpats were thought by officials to be an E.coli death trap. The biggest risk of infection (ROSPA concluded) was from animal poop contaminating vegetables. The message for us is to steer clear of cowpats.

Why it’s important to wash your hands

Poster Courtesy of The National Health Service. The classic move to make sure you’re scrubbing for at least 20 seconds is to sing “Happy Birthday” or “Row Row Row Your Boat” (the latter twice), but a clever teenager created a now-viral tool (pun intended) that turns any song into a hygienic anthem. Wash Your Lyrics is the brainchild of 17-year-old William Gibson.

That’s why we wash our hands after using the toilet and before we eat. There is plenty of bad bacteria around and a lot of it is in the soil we detect. E.coli is just one example … and I haven’t even considered all the pesticides and chemicals that may be present on the fields you search.

Why it’s important to wear gloves

Wearing protective gloves and washing your hands is even more important in these pandemic days. I wash my hands many times a day whilst singing two rousing chorus’s of Happy Birthday’ In my head, of course! Don’t want to upset the two girls who are in lockdown with me.

Call me a wimp, but I felt positively undressed if I forget to wear gloves. Shouldn’t you? In the good old days when out swinging I always used adequate protection.

My mate Dave was given a reminder recently why he usually wore gloves when detecting. The day he didn’t wear them proved quite traumatic. His hand scraped across an old piece of glass and became infected resulting in a tetanus injection and a great deal of pain. That was a timely reminder of the hidden dangers! He now carries a spare set of gloves in the car AND carries a small container of anti-bacterial hand gel!

I’ve read quite a few on-line bits of advice for ‘newbies’ on the clothes they should wear when detecting. I was aghast to read the following piece of advice from a well-known detectorist:

“I personally don’t wear gloves while out metal detecting, a lot of my friends in the detecting world do. I probably should too. I’ve just always been someone who likes to see my hands dirty after a hard days work.”


You know it makes sense

Our macho and well-meaning friend says that there are few benefits to wearing gloves but, in a Trumpian statement, goes on to say that the main advantage is ‘safety’. That encompasses everything, then! So can we include protection from the handling of sharp metal, glass and other nasties.

Remember, Leptospirosis, also called Weil’s disease, is an infection you can catch from animals. It’s rare in the UK. As Nick Ross used to say at the end of Crimewatch,”Don’t have nightmares, do sleep well.” I echo that famous catchphrase. The usual salutation in communications now are “Take Care and Be Safe.”

Borrow the wife’s gardening gloves if you can’t afford a £10 pair to accompany your £2000 metal detector. Oh, and avoid those doo-doos! You know it makes sense!

10 thoughts on “The gloves are on . . . or are they?

  1. I have seen it all before and folks very often will not listen.
    I may mention this subject matter when Iam a guest at BBc Radio Somerset next week to talk about dirt fishing and our long standing detecting organisation. WHRADA. keep safe folks.Jerry.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well done John a well presented article on the dangers of handling dirty soil contaminated finds without wearing gloves.
    I believe that I mentioned in your previous post highlighting the hidden dangers of detectorists not wearing hand protection, the brother of a dear deceased friend of mine from Mansfield who worked as a litter picker on a landfill site bent down to pick up a plastic bag but unknown to him the bag had a small pool of water trapped in it and as he grabbed it the plastic bag was laid on top of a broken glass bottle and as he grabbed it a slither of glass pierced through the bag and his rubber gloves, and within a couple of days he landed in hospital fighting for his life and diagnosed with Leptospirosis / Weils Disease on testing the fluid on the plastic bag it was rat pee he lasted a couple of more days then all his vital organs ceased working and he passed away.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Good post Del Boy…..err I mean John. LOL….

    I echo your sentiment about feeling undressed when not wearing gloves detecting. I have a thin pair for the summer months, and a thick pair for the spring and fall months.

    They may not save me from needles or other fine point objects, but it helps keep the fingernails cleaner, and the sandwiches tasting better.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Most gold panners around here wear gloves but not that many who use detectors.
    Our ground is very dry and we don’t see much poo from stock. The stony ground is hard on hands but small bits of gold are hard to pickup using gloves. I sometimes wear the fingerless type.
    E.coli cases in vegetables here in Oz are usually caused by the pickers who eat with one hand and use the other at the toilet.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Gloves are a go to for me at all times my friend .. Living on the farm and handling.. well… the stuff that comes out of the south end of a north bound horse or chicken, has taught me to just be cautious of the soil contaminants..

    And as to putting coins et al in the mouth.. not bloody likely.. that is why I carry a small spritzer bottle of water.

    A very good post.. especially in light of todays issues.


    Liked by 1 person

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