Potting mix can kill you by contracting Legionnaire's disease as Sydney woman dies

A grandmother who contracted Legionnaires’ disease from potting mix and nearly died has warned all gardening enthusiasts to wear face masks while gardening after the condition killed a Sydney woman.

Jillian Law, 66, had successfully moved 10 meters of soil and five meters of mulch for her new garden in Tin Can Bay, 220km north of Brisbane, in April last year before she developed a headache. from the right ear.

Three days later, he was fighting for his life at Sunshine Coast Private Hospital after inhaling legionella bacteria from the potting mix.

Ms. Law spent three weeks in the hospital and another six months recovering from the scarring on her lungs and the damage to her body. She said her near-death experience meant she was “not surprised” to hear that another gardener had died from the bacteria.

NSW Health confirmed on Monday that a woman in her 60s became seriously ill after using potting mix and was rushed to hospital in Sydney, but doctors were unable to save her life.

“I wasn’t surprised someone had died when I found out, because I almost did,” Law said.

Jillian Law, 66, is pictured wearing a face mask and gloves while gardening in Queensland.

Ms Law (Pictured) Was In Hospital For Three Weeks, But It Took Her About Six Months To Recover.

Ms Law (pictured) was in hospital for three weeks, but it took her about six months to recover.

“I tried telling others to wear face masks and gloves in the garden but no one listens, they think ‘it won’t happen to me’ but that’s what I used to think and it happened to me.”

Ms. Law has gardened without any problems since she was 15, so when she got a headache after gardening in April last year, she thought it was the start of an earache.

She took painkillers and went to bed, but woke up with chronic pain, which she dismissed as a bout of rheumatoid arthritis.

A day later, she lost her sense of taste and smell, she was vomiting, her temperature was above 41°C, she could barely breathe or walk, and she was hallucinating like she was in Alice in Wonderland at the party. of the Mad Hatter’s tea.

“There were glasses dancing in the air around me and I kept trying to catch them,” he told Daily Mail Australia.

“I’ve never tried any drugs, but I imagine that’s what LSD was like in the ’60s.”

Ms Law'S Husband Ken (Pictured Together) Knew His Wife Was Extremely Ill And Took Her To Hospital After She Inhaled The Legionella Bacteria.

Ms Law’s husband Ken (pictured together) knew his wife was extremely ill and took her to hospital after she inhaled the legionella bacteria.

Her husband, Ken Law, knew his wife was extremely ill and took her to Sunshine Coast Private Hospital, where they told him she had legionella bacteria and was dying.

“My blood cells were eating each other and my organs were shutting down and I could feel like I was dying,” he said.

“At one point, I was like ‘this is going to be fine, I’ll just fall asleep and that’s it’.”

Mrs. Law could barely walk a few steps before she was so tired that she had to sleep for four hours.

He developed pneumonia, his weight dropped to 40 kg, and his skin was gray.

Slowly, with antibiotics and a high protein diet, Ms. Law began to regain her strength and was almost back to normal in November of last year.

He said that the doctors at the hospital were amazing and that he owes them his life.

Jillian Law Has Gardened Without A Problem Since She Was 15 Years Old.  Mrs. Law Is Shown Mowing The Lawn When She Was Younger.

Jillian Law has gardened without a problem since she was 15 years old. Mrs. Law is shown mowing the lawn when she was younger.

However, it took some time to return to the garden.

“The doctors told me that I could die if I got legionella again, so I was a bit anxious to get back to the garden,” she said.

“But I’m very careful and still do everything the doctors told me: I wear tight-fitting face masks and gloves in the garden, and I change my gloves every few hours and throw the old ones in the washing machine.”

Ms. Law wanted to share her story to encourage others to be aware of deadly confidence.

On Monday, NSW Health chief executive Dr Jeremy McAnulty said older people, smokers or those with weakened immune systems were more at risk of getting sick.

“Wetting the potting mix first also helps prevent contaminated dust from the potting mix from becoming airborne and inhaled,” said Dr. McAnulty.

Symptoms Of Legionnaires' Disease (Pictured) Include Fever, Chills, Shortness Of Breath, Cough, And Muscle Aches And Can Develop Up To 10 Days After Exposure To The Bacteria.

Symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease (pictured) include fever, chills, shortness of breath, cough, and muscle aches and can develop up to 10 days after exposure to the bacteria.

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

Experts say it’s important to always wear gloves and a face mask when gardening.

The potentially deadly bacteria, known as legionella, can multiply in soil products.

Symptoms can include fever, chills, shortness of breath, cough, and muscle aches and can develop up to 10 days after exposure to the bacteria.

In some cases, the disease can develop into life-threatening pneumonia, which is usually treated with antibiotics in the hospital.

A more common type of legionnaires is caused by a different strain of bacteria usually found in polluted air cooling systems in large buildings.

In the past year to October, there were 660 cases of the disease across Australia, with the majority in New South Wales and Queensland.


Legionnaires’ disease is a severe form of pneumonia that causes lung inflammation.

It is caused by a bacterium, known as Legionella.

The condition can cause life-threatening complications, including respiratory failure, kidney failure, and septic shock, which occurs when blood flow to vital organs is blocked.

Most patients become ill by inhaling small droplets of water from infected sources, such as shower heads, hot tubs, swimming pools, or ventilation systems in buildings.

Anyone can get infected; however, people at risk include the elderly, smokers, and people with weakened immune systems, such as chemotherapy patients.

Symptoms usually develop between two and 10 days after exposure to the bacteria.

Early signs include:

  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Fever and chills

People can then experience:

  • Cough, which can bring up blood
  • dyspnoea
  • Chest pain
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Confusion

Treatment consists of antibiotics, usually in the hospital, as soon as possible.

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