Legionella longbeachae bacteria is often found in potting mix
and can cause the lung infection Legionnaires’ disease if someone inhales dust
from contaminated soil.
Health Executive Director Health Protection, Dr Jeremy McAnulty, said gardeners
can protect themselves by donning a special P2 mask and gardening gloves, while
handling potting mix.
the potting mix first also helps prevent any contaminated potting mix dust
blowing up into the air and being inhaled,” he said.
if you’ve been wearing gloves, make sure to wash your hands thoroughly with
soap before eating, drinking or smoking as the bacteria could still be there.
these precautions means you can enjoy gardening knowing you’re safe.”
of Legionnaires’ disease include fever, cough, shortness of breath, muscle aches,
headache, tiredness, loss of appetite and diarrhoea.
were 81 cases of Legionnaires’ disease from the type of bacteria that can be
found in potting mix and soils in NSW last year.
more common source of Legionnaires’ disease is due to a different strain of
bacteria, usually found in contaminated air conditioning cooling systems on
Dr McAnulty said
as some cooling systems are switched on and off in autumn, building operators need
to be especially vigilant keep maintain them well and clean them to stop Legionella pneumophila bacteria building
pools of water in cooling systems are often at just the right temperature for
these bacteria to thrive,” he said.
when a contaminated cooling system is turned back on and off again, the bugs
get a jolt and could be released into in the air via water droplets.”
Health last year strengthened the Public Health Regulation to reduce the
community’s risk of Legionnaires’, requiring building owners to conduct monthly
inspections and tests on cooling towers, notify high levels of Legionella and other bacteria to councils,
and develop risk management plans.