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Gardening is a popular pastime in New Zealand, and especially so in the Garden City. There are a number of things that can adversely affect your health when gardening, (sun, bees, tetanus, strains from lifting to name a few) and Legionnaires is definitely one of those. With peak gardening season upon us, there are more people out and about in the garden planting veggies and flowers, and tidying up outside ready for Christmas. At times we can get so busy that we rush through in a hurry trying to get everything done and forget to put on our gloves and masks. It is important that you take the time to protect yourself when you are gardening. Whether you are young or old, a new gardener or an expert, we strongly recommend that you follow all of the safety warnings and advice  when handling any bagged or bulk potting mix, veggie mix, compost as well as any other form of growing mix.

Legionellosis (Legionnaire’s disease) is a form of pneumonia, and is caused by a bacteria called Legionella found in moist conditions in the environment. You can catch the disease by inhaling airborne droplets or particles that contain the bacteria. The illness can present itself in mild or severe cases, and can sometimes be fatal. It is more common in elderly people, particularly if they smoke, have poor immunity, or are already ill. Here are some tips to reduce your chances of contracting this disease:

  • Read the warning labels on bags of compost and potting mixes
  • Wear gloves when handling soils, mulches, composts and potting mixes
  • Wear a dust mask if you are using these mixes indoors, or if it is windy
  • Dampen mixes before using them
  • Always open bags away from your face

Please take the time to read over the information found in the following links. They are very informative, and give you great advice on what to do in the garden to keep yourself safe, as well as what you should do if you feel that you might have contracted the disease.

We are gathering more information that we will compile over the coming days to help explain the best practice when gardening, as well as more about what Legionella is and why it likes potting mix and compost so much! If you have any questions, please give us a call on 03 3479415 or email, we are more than happy to answer any of your questions and concerns as best as we can!

PotmixNew Zealand Plant Producers Incorporated

When people handle garden soils, compost and potting mixes there is a potential risk of contracting legionellosis, or Legionnaire’s Disease.  Legionellosis is a respiratory (lung) infection, caused by the Legionella bacteria.  The severity of legionellosis can range from a relatively mild respiratory non-pneumonic illness (Pontiac fever) to pneumonia (Legionnaires’ disease) which left untreated may be fatal.

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The Nursery & Garden Industry Association of New Zealand

Gardening is a popular pastime enjoyed by thousands of New Zealanders, helping people relax and escape the stresses of life. It provides enjoyment and exercise.

The huge growth of interest in home-grown vegetables and fruit in recent years has added to people’s culinary enjoyment, and helped stretch their budgets further.

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Safer and Healthier Gardening

Information on garden safety and reducing risks when gardening. Covers a range of topics including legionella, tetanus, spider bites, poisonous plants, bee stings, and melanoma.

Gardening is one of the most popular leisure activities in New Zealand. It lets people enjoy nature and grow their own produce.

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Go Gardening

Soil is rich with living organisms beneficial to plants which generally cause no harm to animals or people. Soil does, however, also contain some organisms that are not beneficial.

A type of Legionella bacteria, which is commonly found in the environment, is one of these. It has been shown to cause Legionnaires' disease in a few people.

This guide provides some simple and natural steps that all gardeners can take to reduce risk while continuing to enjoy their garden.

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