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Gardeners Warned About Soil Mix

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Gardeners Warned About Soil Mix

Wellington, Dec 4 NZPA - Gardeners who use potting mix are being warned about the risk of catching legionnaires' disease after an elderly woman died from the disease.

Canterbury District Health Board said a woman in her 80s died from pneumonia caused by the disease last week and three people with the disease were in intensive care, The Press reported.

The disease is caused by legionella bacteria which are commonly found in water and soils, including potting mix and compost.

Canterbury medical officer of health Ramon Pink said people needed be careful not to inhale dust when opening potting mix or compost.

"Bags should be carefully opened using scissors and not ripped open, in a well ventilated area, preferably outdoors and away from the face," he said.

People should also wear face masks when handling potting mix and compost.

Dr Pink said that so far this year there had been 156 cases of the disease nationally and 38 in Canterbury.

These numbers were higher than previous years, but this could be because more accurate tests were being done.

Symptoms included dry coughing, high fever, chills, diarrhoea, shortness of breath, chest pains, headaches, excessive sweating, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.

Anyone with these symptoms who had recently handled potting mix or compost should contact a doctor, Dr Pink said.

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