Woman gets Legionnaire's Disease from garden soil
STARING out onto her unfinished garden bed, a Rockhampton woman had no idea a shipment of discounted soil would unearth a devastating illness that would almost take her life.
She said she contracted Legionnaire's Disease after buying a load of soil for her garden in July.
Within a week, the retiree went from a perky social butterfly to being completely bedridden and exhausted.
Legionnaire's Disease, a lung infection caused by Legionella bacteria, has a fatality rate that sits around 15% and is listed as a notifiable disease by Queensland Health.
The organism has been isolated from hot water systems, cooling towers and showers; but the longbeachae strain has long been associated with potting mixes and soil.
The disease tends to occur more commonly in immunocompromised people, the elderly, and those with underlying medical conditions.
Sufferers usually present with a fever, cough and/or pneumonia, but the woman said it was the exhaustion that hit her the hardest.
"I thought it was just a bug... then I had to go to hospital because I was at the point of falling over," she said.
"As soon as the doctor saw me he said I had to go to hospital, and I had three weeks there before I came out."
The woman also spent days in intensive care as she recovered from the infection.
The owner of the store where the woman bought the soil said that all staff were checked for symptoms after they were notified, and all were in the clear.
The woman is now fully recovered.
Last year, only 45 cases of Legionnaire's Disease were reported in Queensland.
Fast facts on Legionnaire's
The average age of people notified with legionellosis is 57
Notification rates are higher in males
Cannot be spread from person to person or from animal to human
Symptoms appear in 2-10 days