Melbourne grandfather dies of ­Legionnaires’ disease after potting mix exposure

A Melbourne grandfather has died of ­Legionnaires’ disease days after opening a bag of potting mix for his wife.

Giuseppe ‘Beppi’ Trentin, 79, died in hospital last Wednesday – a month shy of his 80th birthday – after he was exposed to legionella bacteria at the couple’s Preston home.

His son Renato Trentin told 7NEWS that his mum had been repotting a tomato plant when she asked her husband to grab the bag of potting mix from the garage and open it for her.

“Mum did all the potting, dad didn’t touch the soil or anything,” he said.

A few days later, Beppi woke with a fever and was admitted to hospital a week later when his condition deteriorated rapidly.

“An ambulance came and within a couple of hours they confirmed he had pneumonia – but they weren’t sure what pneumonia it was,” Renato said.

Beppi had Legionnaires’ disease which can be caused by a bacteria commonly found in potting mix. His wife was not impacted.

“Because it’s such a severe infection, his kidneys were already shutting down, and he was going into some sort of septic shock.”

Soon after, he was moved to intensive care and placed in an induced coma.

“Dad gave us a call and said, ‘this is what they want to do, I’m happy for them to do it and we’ll see you in a couple of days’,” he said.

Renato visited his father in hospital with his mother last Tuesday, and the following day they got a call to confirm he had passed away.

“Mum is just devastated … they’ve been together for almost 60 years, it’s a big shock to the system,” he said.

Renato said his father was “a bit of a jokester” who had worked in the construction industry until retirement, before becoming a crossing supervisor at Bell Primary School in Preston.

”He loved that job. He loved the kids, and the kids loved him. They really formed a special bond,” he added.

His devastated family now hopes they can save others from making the same mistake.

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