Dr Vicky Sheppeard, Director of Communicable Diseases, said backyard
activities such as gardening can increase the risk of infections including
“Tetanus is a serious bacterial infection which attacks the nervous
system, and is potentially fatal. There are only one or two cases of tetanus in
NSW every year and fatality is rare in Australia, but globally up to 80 per
cent of people who contract the infection will die from it.
“Older and unvaccinated people are especially vulnerable, which is why
it’s important to ensure they are adequately vaccinated.”
The latest report from the Australian Immunisation Register shows that
94.7 per cent of children in NSW are fully protected against tetanus by five
years of age, however data is not available to measure adult protection levels
and many adults may require a booster.
NSW Health recommends adults 50 years and over to have a booster dose if
they haven’t had one in the last ten years. People who received a primary
course as adults should receive booster doses 10 and 20 years after the primary
Dr Sheppeard said people should also be aware of the risk of contracting
Legionnaires’ disease from common household potting mix.
“Each year we get between 30 and 40 Legionnaires’ disease cases of the
type caused by potting mix and of these, around 70 per cent report using
potting mix in their exposure period, Dr Sheppeard said.
“Always follow manufacturers’ warnings on potting mix labels, such as
wearing gloves and a mask, and wet down the mix to reduce dust.”
Spring and early summer is also the time to protect against diseases
such as Ross River and Barmah Forest virus, which are carried by mosquitoes,
particularly in rural areas and bushy areas on the outskirts of Sydney.
“Even though NSW is not a tropical climate, residents should take
precautions against mosquito and insect bites,” Dr Sheppeard said.