Gardeners warned of the danger of legionnaires’ disease when handling potting mix

Gardeners in NSW have been urged to wear face masks and gloves when handling potting mix and compost to avoid contact with legionnaires’ disease.

The warning comes after a woman in her 60s from Sydney died of the disease last week after handling potting mix.

NSW Health said there were 96 cases of Legionnaires’ disease this year due to the type of bacteria that can be found in potting soil and soil.

NSW Health director Jeremy McAnulty urged gardeners to wear masks and gloves when handling potting soil.

“Most people who breathe in the bacteria don’t get sick, but the risk of infection increases if you’re older, smoke or have a weakened immune system,” said Dr McAnulty.

“Wetting the potting mix first also prevents contaminated potting mix dust from being blown into the air and inhaled.

“Even if you’ve been wearing gloves, wash your hands thoroughly with soap before eating or drinking because the bacteria could still be there.”

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