Kaikoura man warns gardeners

19:00, Nov 29 2012

A burning fever, non-stop coughing and almost a week of suffering in hospital means Kaikoura man David Duthie will take more care in the garden.

He is one of 12 people with the potentially deadly legionnaires' disease in Canterbury in the past two weeks. One person has died.

Mr Duthie, 43, was yesterday discharged from Christchurch Hospital after a six-day stay.

Eleven cases were caused by exposure to harmful bacteria while using compost or potting mix.

One case was caused by bacteria in a cooling system, Canterbury District Health Board medical officer of health Dr Alistair Humphrey said.

Symptoms of the disease include coughing, fever, chills, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, headaches and diarrhoea.


Mr Duthie has recently been planting seeds in his garden and "didn't even think about legionnaires' disease".

"[It's] something I've heard of but it was one of those things I never thought would affect me," Mr Duthie said.

Even though he was gardening about two weeks ago, he only started to "feel rotten" last Tuesday.

"I never get sick and I've never been to hospital before and I just didn't know what was wrong with me."

Mr Duthie visited his GP who told him to travel to Christchurch Hospital.

He said after his sister, a nurse, suggested he could have legionnaires' disease, he told hospital staff he had been in the garden.

"Having 40-degree temperatures and coughing non-stop is not fun," Mr Duthie said.

"In future I'll definitely be wearing a mask, making sure bags of potting mix or whatever are kept damp and being careful when I open it."

He said too many people did "the typically Kiwi thing".

"They ignore the warnings, grab the pocket knife and rip into the bag . . . I'll be telling everyone I know to be more careful."

He said while a week-long hospital stay cost thousands of dollars, a simple protective mask cost "next to nothing".

Last year there were 61 cases recorded in Canterbury and three deaths.

The Marlborough Express