Most people consider gardening a relaxing hobby, a way to enjoy the outdoors in nice weather. As a consultant for emergency medicine, I see all kinds of injuries and medical emergencies that can arise from what appears to be a harmless pastime.
I’ve seen many hand and foot injuries from garden forks, lawnmowers, and other tools. In the last few weeks, I’ve seen people fall from ladders and get head injuries from falling on concrete. And, sadly, it confirmed the death of a shoveler who was too enthusiastic.
In the past, gardens were a health hazard. One of the first patients treated with penicillin had sepsis from a scratch caused by a rose-thorn. The smallest of injuries could be fatal. This is still true today. A UK woman died from sepsis recently after scratching a hand while gardening.
There are other dangers in your garden. Before you head out to care for your plants, here are a few things that you should be aware of:
Tetanus can be a very nasty disease. The toxin produced by Clostridium Tetani causes the muscles to spasm. Sufferers experience painful muscle spasms, and their jaws may lock.
Tetanus is often associated with rusty objects, such as nails. But this surprisingly common organism is also Legionnaires’ disease, which is especially harmful to the elderly and those with compromised immune systems. Inhaling it can cause deadly pneumonia. It may be present in composting water that is warm and stagnant.
Not only is pre-packaged organic compost hazardous. If you maintain your compost pile properly, it will also contain a variety of bacteria and fungi. When it is hot, the Aspergillus mold often grows. It can cause lung lesions and even spread throughout the body.
Mold spores may also trigger allergic reactions, leading to a condition called extrinsic allergy alveolitis (also known as “farmer’s lung.”” The disease is usually caused by exposure to moldy hay. However, compost heaps may also cause the same symptoms due to the presence of bacteria such as Actinomycetes.
Leptospira can be found in water that has been contaminated by rat urine. When gardening, be careful around ponds or rainwater tanks, as rats are known to build habitats close to humans.
Beware of rats in your yard. battybattrick/ Shutterstock
Leptospira is a bacteria that can cause leptospirosis. This unpleasant infection causes headaches and fevers. It also causes vomiting, jaundice, and later liver, kidney, and meningitis failure.