This is just some of the advice from NSW Health in time for the summer
holiday season when people spend more time gardening.
longbeachae, one form of Legionnaires’
disease, is responsible for about 40 per cent of all Legionella cases in NSW,
with 63 people contracting the potentially fatal disease this year.
While this strain is
contracted through exposure to potting mix and compost, it differs from Legionella
pneumophila caught through breathing in contaminated water droplets.
Heath’s Director of Health Protection Dr Jeremy McAnulty issued a warning to
gardeners about the risk of contracting Legionella
potting mix and similar materials.
many gardeners, potting mix may seem harmless, but it can actually be very
dangerous unless the correct procedures are followed,’’ Dr McAnulty said.
people who breathe in the bacteria don’t become ill, but the chance of doing so
increases if you’re older, a smoker or have a weakened immune system.”
Because Legionella bacteria can multiply in potting mix, to minimise the
risk NSW Health advises people to always follow the manufacturer’s warnings on
the outside of the bag before opening the mix.
“Put on a face mask and wear
gardening gloves before you open the bag of potting mix and handle the
contents,” Dr McAnulty said.
“You should also wet-down the
material to reduce the dust, and make sure you wash your hands with soap and water
after handling it.”
Care should also be taken when
handling mulch and other soil products which may contain the bacteria that
cause this strain of Legionnaires’.
usually takes between two and ten days after exposure for a person to become
ill. Symptoms may include fever, chills, headache, shortness of breath, a dry
cough and aching muscles. People who suspect they may be ill should see their doctor.
For more on Legionnaires’ disease visit: http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/factsheets/Pages/legionnaires_disease.aspx