23 de abr. de 2011

Easter gardeners reminded of Legionnaires' risk

Gardeners are being reminded of the dangers of potting mix and compost when gardening this Easter weekend.

Canterbury Medical Officer of Health Dr Alistair Humphrey says Easter is a popular time to get the last of that autumn planting and weeding done before winter sets in.

However, it can increase people's chances of being exposed to harmful bacteria legionella longbeachae, which can lead to Legionnaires' disease.

"Easter is often a time when the number of Legionnaires' cases can peak and this is usually associated around increased gardening activity and lower immunity levels with the change in season," Humphrey said.

Five steps are recommended to help prevent contracting Legionnaires disease from potting mix.

1. Open potting mix bags carefully using scissors, rather than ripping them.

2. Wear a disposable face mask and gloves and open the bag away from your face.

3. Do your potting in a well ventilated area outside.

4. Dampen down the potting mix or compost with a sprinkle of water to stop the bacteria from becoming airborne.

5. Wash your hands thoroughly after handling potting mix and doing any gardening.

Symptoms of Legionnaires' disease may include dry coughing, high fever, chills, diarrhoea, shortness of breath, chest pains, headaches, excessive sweating, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.

Anyone with these symptoms, who has been handling potting mix or compost recently, should seek prompt advice from their general practice or medical centre.

Published: 8:20PM Thursday April 21, 2011 Source: ONE News

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