Compost blamed for deadly outbreak
Thu, 29 Nov 2012 5:22a.m.
Gardeners have been warned their potting mix or compost could be deadly if they don't take precautions after a spate of people catching legionnaires' disease in Canterbury.
One person has died and another 10 people have been hospitalised in Christchurch in November from legionnaires' disease, which authorities believe was caught from potting mix or compost.
Canterbury medical officer of health Alistair Humphrey says the disease seems to have come from a variety of sources and not just one batch of potting mix.
"It looks as if it's been a warm spring, people have got out into the garden, and sadly they've used potting mix and got unwell from it," he told Radio New Zealand.
Dr Humphrey said it was an avoidable disease if people took the right precautions.
These included opening bags of potting mix outside while wearing a mask and gloves, to do so with a pair of scissors, and to dampen it down so dust doesn't fly around.
"We don't want to discourage people from gardening," he said.
"It's perfectly simple to reduce your risk by taking all these precautions when you're handling potting mix, or indeed your own compost from your compost heap because that also grows legionella."
Dr Humphrey says most of the people affected were elderly, as is usually the case with legionnaires' disease, though it was more serious if people smoked or had a pre-existing respiratory illness.
All but one of the 10 people who contracted the disease from potting mix or compost has been discharged.
One other person contracted the disease from a different source.
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29/11/2012 6:49:21 p.m.
Karen Dobson wrote:
I went to the doctor suspecting catching something from the compost my son bought home from the garden centre, which stunk to high heaen I watered off my hands but rubbed my eyes which swelled up and has taken ages to come right with bad cough etc I KNOW it was from the compost and I live in Auckland so its gardners beware, I ened up going to the doctor, I was guven 2 weeks antibiotics and its has taken a whole week for me to even start feeling better. cheers Karen
29/11/2012 11:48:15 a.m.
yes, dont grow veges anymore, go and buy from the shop. wat a fear mongering message, this is. more people die on the roads in a weekend.
29/11/2012 11:32:51 a.m.
Jan is right - it's like a food product recall. Which supplier left their compost out in the rain/sun....tell us
29/11/2012 10:27:38 a.m.
Bev Smith wrote:
Why is the legionnaires outbreak only happening in Canterbury? Is the potting mix made in Canterbury using soil affected by liquefaction?
My husband has COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and we moved from Christchurch to Mosgiel in June this year. Since then his lungs have been much better than they had been for the two years we were in Christchurch and we wonder if there is more air pollution in Christchurch than has officially been recognized since the earthquakes and subsequent liquefaction.
29/11/2012 8:13:56 a.m.
One would imagine that they would have sourced the makers of the potting/compost mix and alerted the public to this certain brand until that particular company has thorougly investigated there product...
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