11 Dec 2009

Legionnaires warning to Canterbury gardeners

6:54 am on 11 December 2009

Health authorities in Canterbury are warning gardeners to be careful when handling bags of potting mix or compost because of the danger of contracting legionnaires' disease.

Canterbury District Health Board's community and public health division says it's been told about five cases of the dfisease, including a death, in the region since September.

Two people are currently in intensive care because of it.

Legionnaires' disease is a type of pneumonia caused by Legionella bacteria, which are commonly found in water and soils.

The Medical Officer of Health for Canterbury, Raymon Pink, says potting mix was the likely source of infection in four of the cases. He says the person who died contracted the infection overseas.

Dr Pink says it is important not to inhale dust when opening bags of potting mix. Bags should be opened in a well-ventilated area and kept away from the face.