'Dare' caused his death

Published: Thursday, 05 December 2019

A YOUTH was 'dared' to take a cold dip in the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal in late November resulting in his death.

Joseph Cohen, aged 17, was with other teenagers on the towpath of the canal near Minworth Locks where they had swum in the summer and were 'daring' each other to take a cold dip in one of the locks, with Joseph taking up the challenge, stripping down and jumping in.

Flue-like symptoms

The subsequent report pointed out that he later suffered flue-like symptoms, with his parents believing his jumping in the canal had caused a cold, but as his conditioned worsened a doctor was called who upon being told of his immersion  in the canal water suspected  Weil's Disease, (Leptospirosis) that was confirmed at hospital.

The disease could not be controlled, it causing kidney and liver failure and bleeding, and Joseph sadly died .  It was revealed that he caught his body on the lock edge causing an open wound.


From time to time narrowboatworld has warned of the dangers of swimming in the canals and the risk of Weil's Disease, caught from excretions from rats and water voles.  Though it has been claimed that  water voles are not responsible for the disease VetRecord told:

'The acquisition of Leptospira species by a cohort of ‘clean’ captive-bred voles reintroduced to one site in the wild was then examined. By four months postrelease the maximum exposure prevalence (by either MAT or culture) was 42.9 per cent. Thirty-five per cent were actively excreting leptospires'.

There are around 50 deaths a year recorded from the disease in the UK.