AFTER spending 10 days in hospital, a pair of gloves and a face mask are now never out of reach of keen gardener Ray Robinson.

The 64-year-old contracted the potentially deadly legionnaire's disease earlier in the year.

Legionnaire's disease is a lung infection caused by the Legionella bacteria found in creeks, ponds and soils.

Doctors presume it was Mr Robinson's frequent contact with potting mix that led to his infection.

Mr Robinson contracted the disease at the same time it was killing people in Brisbane hospitals.

"With all of the problems in the hospitals lately, I have come to realise that I am lucky to have overcome the illness," Mr Robinson.

The medical drama obviously rattled Mr Robinson and his wife Kerry.

"It happened fairly quickly," Mr Robinson, who also has diabetes, said.

"I was on the Gold Coast helping my son with his business.

"One day I couldn't eat lunch, which is usual for me.

"In the afternoon, I felt a bit crook and went to have a sleep.

"The next morning, I fainted."

Mr Robinson was taken to John Flynn Hospital at the Gold Coast where he spent 10 days recovering.

He was diagnosed with two different strains of pneumonia, one being Legionella.

"The specialist asked if I had been doing any gardening lately," he said.

Mr Robinson is treating his brush with Legionnaires as a wake-up call.

"They said if it was 10 years ago, I probably wouldn't be here," he said.

"Like most people, I did not think it could happen to me, although I was aware of the dangers. This has been a wake-up call for me."

Mr Robinson now uses gloves and a face mask when in the garden.


Legionnaire's facts

  • Legionnaire's disease, also known as legionellosis, is a type of pneumonia (lung infection) caused by the Legionella bacteria.
  • Legionnaire's disease is not spread from person to person. The disease is spread by breathing in tiny droplets of moisture that contain the bacteria.
  • Legionella bacteria are also found in air-conditioning cooling towers, hot or warm water systems, showerheads, spa baths and even soil and potting mix.
  • People most at risk of infection are those over 50 years of age who smoke cigarettes and people with a weak immune system.

- Queensland Health

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