Shocking wake-up call: Matt Wyeth's fight against leptospirosis reveals farming's hidden danger
Health and Wellbeing
Health and Wellbeing

Shocking wake-up call: Matt Wyeth's fight against leptospirosis reveals farming's hidden danger

Matt Wyeth is a sheep and beef farmer at Spring Valley Farms, a hill country farm West of Masterton, running 17,000 stock units. Matt's known for being full-on into the business - but he had to take an unscheduled step back when something from within the farm ecosystem came along, and gave him something he hadn't bargained for.

Matt and his wife Lynley gave an in-depth account of his terrifying encounter with leptospirosis. He contracted the disease during a trip to Stewart Island, leading to a gruelling period of extreme sweating, sensitivity to light, and delusions.

His friends played a critical role in getting him to Southland Hospital where the severity of his condition became evident. 

"All of a sudden the alarm started ringing and there were three or four nurses and doctors flying around and cutting my hospital apron off and putting some slicker pads on my chest and kind of rubbing the paddles together," he said.

While Matt's experience was horrifying, it also served as a wake-up call for the farming community, prompting a greater focus on health and safety, especially with diseases like leptospirosis.

Moving on to managing such a large farm, Wyeth discussed pasture covers and feeder bits management and explained how he had to adapt his strategies to tackle these hurdles. He mentioned how the El Niño season was fast approaching and their plans for water management to mitigate the risk of leptospirosis. 

During the conversation, Lynley emphasised the importance of being proactive in challenging times.

"If you think you might tighten up your budget, do it now, do it hard, do it far, and then you might come out of it, or you probably will come out of it in a better place at the other end," she said.

George commended Matt and Lynley's positive outlook and resilience in the face of adversity. The conversation ended with a focus on the importance of sharing inspiring stories from the farming community, reflecting on the evolution of the farming industry, and the challenges it currently faces.

Matt Wyeth's story is a powerful reminder of the risks and rewards in the world of farming. His resilience and innovative approach towards farming serve as an inspiration for the agricultural community. 

Listen to the full chat between West Masterton farmers Matt and Lynley Wyeth and Dominic George above.

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* Humans can get leptospirosis through direct contact with urine from infected animals or through water, soil or food contaminated with their urine. It's most common in warm climates.

High fever, headache, bleeding, muscle pain, chills, red eyes and vomiting are some symptoms.

Without treatment, leptospirosis can lead to kidney and liver damage and even death. Antibiotics clear the infection.