Gardening is an excellent opportunity to unwind, be at one with nature and to do your bit. However, lurking in the surroundings are harmful bacteria and fungi with the potential to cause serious damage. We must, therefore, be on guard with our gardening gloves as well as other clothing that protects us.
The soil is home to all kinds of fungi and bacteria the majority of them are beneficial and perform useful things such as the breakdown of organic matter. But, just as they are pathogenic bacteria that reside in your body alongside the beneficial ones, some microorganisms found in soil could cause significant harm when they have the chance to get into the body. Scratches, scrapes, or splinters typically cause this.
Animal manure, plant compost, and animal manure are all sources of fungi and bacteria that can trigger infections.
Read more: The science is in: gardening is good for you
Traditionally, the most frequent and well-known disease is tetanus, which is caused by Clostridium Tetani, which is found in manure and soil. The infection is caused by the contamination of scrapes and cuts caused by items that come into contact with the ground, for example, gardening tools and rose thorns.
It is good to know that the majority of people are vaccinated against tetanus. This means that even if you’re suffering from the disease, the body can fight the bacteria in order to stop it from becoming dangerous. The signs include stiffness, weakness, and cramps. The release of toxins causes muscular weakness and difficulty in eating and swallowing. This is the name tetanus, which is commonly used for tetanus of lockjaw.
Bacteria like Escherichia Coli, Salmonella, Campylobacter jejuni, and Listeria monocytogenes are commonly found in gardens because of the use of horse, cow, chicken, chicken, or other animal-based manure. Bacterial infections can cause sepsis. The bacteria invade the bloodstream and quickly grow, causing the body to trigger an inflammation response, which can lead to organ failure, septic shock, and if it is not addressed in a timely manner, death.
A prominent case has recently taken place in England, in which a 43-year-old solicitor, mother of two perished within five days of scrubbing her hand while working. It’s a case very close to home, considering that many years ago, my mother was 10 days in intensive treatment for severe sepsis believed to have been result of a sharp splinter in the garden.
Standing water bodies could contain Legionella pneumophila, which is the bacterium that causes Legionnaires disease, which is more often linked to outbreaks caused by contamination of air conditioning systems in the buildings.
Read more: Are common garden chemicals a health risk?
Related bacteria, Legionella longbeachae, are found in soil and compost. In 2016, there were 29 confirmed cases of legionellosis in New Zealand, including a Wellington man who picked up the bug from handling potting mix.
Potting mix must be handled with gloves while wearing a mask for dust. From www.shutterstock.com
A further ten cases were recorded in Wellington in 2017- again related to pot soil. For New Zealand and Australia, Legionella longbeachae in potting mixes is responsible for about 50 percent of the cases of Legionnaires (or ‘diseases’). There were about 400 incidents of Legionellosis in Australia in 2014.
The bacteria are usually breathed in, and therefore, wearing a mask of dust when working with potting soil and damping the ground to avoid dust are suggested.
Another concern for people in northern Australia is an illness known as Melioidosis. The melioidosis microorganisms ( Burkholderia pseudomallei) are found in soil but are located on the surface as well as in puddles following rain. They can enter the body via cuts or grazes. Sometimes, they can also enter the body through inhalation, or drinking groundwater.
The infection can trigger a range of symptoms like breathing difficulties and coughing as well as fever, sporadic or intermittent headache, fever, confusion and weight loss for as long as 21 days before they develop.