British olympic rowing champion Andy Holmes died late Sunday in London at the age of 51. Holmes won gold in the coxed four at Los Angeles in 1984 and in the coxless pairs in Seoul in 1988. This sad news comes in the wake of the death of U.S. National Swimmer Fran Crippen.
The cause of death is believed to be illness due to Weil's disease, a rare waterborne bacterial infection. This disease can be carried in water contaminated with animal urine. The infection is caught through contact with infected animal urine (mainly from rats, cattle or pigs), and enters the body through cuts or scrapes, or the lining of the nose, mouth, throat or eyes.
Rowers and canoeists are advised to cover all cuts, avoid splashing themselves, or swallowing potentially contaminated water, wash their hands carefully and shower afterwards and see a physician if flu-like symptoms occur.
Weil's disease is thought to kill two or three people a year in Britain.