Health warning to gardeners using potting mix

The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has issued a health warning to gardeners using potting mix.

26 cases of Legionella longbeachae have been confirmed in Victoria this year, a bacteria commonly found in potting mix.

Legionella longbeachae is a cause of Legionnaires’ disease, a form of pneumonia.

DHHS has released the below information:

  • Early symptoms resemble the flu and begin to appear six days after exposure.
  • The risk of disease is increased with age, smoking, and in people with weakened immune systems.
  • Legionnaires’ disease can be fatal in a small number of people in these at-risk groups.
  • The ingredients and dampness in potting mix makes it an ideal breeding ground for the bacteria.
  • To minimise the risk of exposure, gardeners should always follow the manufacturer’s safety instructions, wear a mask and gloves when handling soil, compost or potting mix and wash hands with soap and water after handling soil and before eating, drinking, smoking or placing hands near the face or mouth.
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