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Take care when gardening!

Media release
Monday 10 October
Take care when gardening!

West Coasters are being urged to follow some simple steps in order to avoid getting a serious illness linked to gardening.

Dr Cheryl Brunton, West Coast Medical Officer of Health, says at this time of year we begin to see increases in Legionnaires’ disease.

“In spring every year the number of people with Legionnaires’ disease begins to climb. This seasonal surge is mostly linked to gardeners catching Legionnaires' disease from potting mix or compost.

“After a long winter it’s great to get back in the garden and make the most of the longer, warmer days, but please make sure you avoid inhaling the dust from potting mix or compost as this can be dangerous,” she says.

She said you can catch the disease, which is a form of pneumonia, by inhaling airborne droplets or particles that contain the Legionella bacteria.

Symptoms normally include coughing, high fever, chills, shortness of breath, chest pains, headaches, nausea, abdominal pain and excessive sweating. Dr Brunton said anyone who experiences these symptoms should see their general practice team immediately and also let them know if they have been handling potting mix or compost.

It is important gardeners follow five simple steps to avoid catching Legionnaires’ disease from potting mix or compost:

· Open potting mix carefully – use scissors instead of ripping the bags

· Wear a disposable face mask and gloves, and open the bag away from your face

· Do your potting in a well-ventilated area outdoors

· Dampen down the potting mix or compost with a sprinkle of water to reduce dust

· Wash your hands thoroughly after handling potting mix or gardening


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