The Dangers of Soils, Mulch, Composts and Potting Mixes

aerationWith Summer upon us, many of us will be heading out into the garden – planting, repotting, undertaking garden and lawn maintenance but there is something you need to be aware of before you handle any compost, mulch, potting mix or soil.

Legionella is found in these products and can cause serious illness such as Legionella longbeachae which is a type of pneumonia.

With some simple precautions you can protect yourself and your family and get on with having fun in the backyard.

  • Always wear gloves;
  • Always wear a face mask;
  • Avoid touching your eyes or mouth – hand to mouth is thought to be the most likely transmission method;
  • Avoid inhaling the mix and its dust particles;
  • Keep the mix damp while in use;
  • Wash your hands thoroughly after use, even though you have worn gloves.

The Legionella micro-organisms are naturally occurring and widespread in our environment with no known way of preventing them from multiplying in vegetable material, plant material, saw dust, composted bark, potting mixes and garden soils so it’s up to you to protect yourself.

While relatively simple to cure if the Legionellosis is diagnosed and quickly treated, it does have an associated mortality rate of about 15% – so please take the easy precautions and stay on the safe side. Anyone can be affected but those with a compromised immune system should be particularly vigilant.

Symptoms of a Legionella infection usually appear 2-10 days after exposure and can include a fever, chills, a cough, tiredness, aching muscles, headache, loss of appetite, diarrhoea. Should you have been exposure to any soil, potting mix, mulch or compost and then exhibit these symptoms, please seek medical attention.

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