Senator warns on deadly risks of drinking beer `by the neck'


Pub owners and brewers should take extra precautions when storing and serving bottled drinks to ensure customers who drink "by the neck" do not contract Weil's disease, Senator Joe Costello of the Labour Party has said. The disease can be contracted by humans from rats' urine, and is potentially fatal.

"The reality is that most beers are stored in moist cellars and basements which are places where rats breed. In turn, this makes bottles and crates very susceptible to contamination from rat urine," he explained.

He added that a disposable plastic wrapper placed around the tops of beer bottles should be considered.

Advertisers and trendsetters had made it fashionable to drink bottles of beer by the neck, he said.

A Dublin man, Mr David Bailey, died in August 1996 after contracting Weil's disease. While playing golf he was recovering a ball from a ditch when a rat ran up his leg and urinated. Mr Bailey took little notice as he was not bitten.

Two weeks later he became severely jaundiced and died from kidney failure, a symptom of the disease.

Other symptoms may include fever, headaches and muscle pain. Weil's disease is the severest form of leptospirosis, a bacterial infection common in animals. The infection is transmitted through breaks in skin, or the eyes, nose or mouth.