Caution urged after gardeners struck by Legionnaires’ disease

An article posted by warns gardeners about the possibility of contracting legionnaires disease.

Two suspected Legionnaires’ disease deaths in the southern region in recent months and a spate of other cases of the ailment have prompted a new public health campaign by the Southern District Health Board.

Last year, 20 cases of legionellosis were notified in the Southern DHB district, 14 of which were in the last three months of the year.

”To date, this year there have been three cases, all in Dunedin City,” SDHB medical officer of health Anura Jayasinghe said.

One Dunedin man’s death has been confirmed as being primarily due to legionellosis; the cause of a Central Otago man’s death is officially unknown, but is suspected to have been the same.

”Both men had an exposure to potting mix/compost,” Dr Jayasinghe said.

Both the deceased were elderly men who had other medical conditions.

Men over 60 and smokers were at higher risk of contracting the disease than other demographics, Dr Jayasinghe said.

”People should watch out for signs of legionellosis, as early treatment is usually effective.

”Early symptoms can appear 2-10 days after exposure and are similar to the flu; the infection can cause a cough, shortness of breath, high fever, muscle pains, headaches, and nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea may also occur.”

In November the SDHB publicised the death of the Dunedin man from legionnaire’s to help raise awareness of the disease, to which gardeners are particularly prone.

The man’s widow told the Otago Daily Times her husband was a fit and healthy non-smoker, who loved working in their garden.

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