What only infects plants

Prevent serious infections in the garden

Status: 05/25/2020 5:21 p.m.
Hobby gardeners should be careful with sharp tools.

Even during the corona pandemic, the garden is mowed, cut and chopped so that everything turns green and blooms. But gardening can cause injuries - especially if hobby gardeners are inexperienced with gardening tools such as saws or log splitters. Pathogens can get into the wound. Compost heaps are also a possible source of infections: dangerous germs lurk there, for example staphylococci, tetanus clostridia, molds and leptospira. They can sometimes cause life-threatening infections.

Serious infections from minor injuries

Often, minor injuries from cuts, splinters and thorns occur when gardening. But tools like saws and hatchets can also lead to serious injuries and limb amputation.

The risk of wound infection arises from a small open area in the skin, a scratch or the sting of a rose. Bacteria such as staphylococci, streptococci and other pus pathogens lurk in the earth. If the injured area comes into contact with it, the pathogens can literally eat their way into the skin. In the worst case scenario, blood poisoning can occur.

Tetanus: refresh your vaccination

Clostridia are particularly dangerous. These bacteria are extremely resilient and can be found practically anywhere in the environment. They can get into the wound via road dust or earth and release a toxin there which, without adequate vaccination protection, can trigger a fatal tetanus. Protection against tetanus is only possible with a vaccination, which should be refreshed every seven to ten years.

Leptospira in the urine of rats

Leptospira is mainly transmitted in the urine of rodents such as rats, which are attracted by leftover food in the compost heap. The dangerous pathogens end up in the ground or in the water. They survive there for months. When infected, the bacteria lead to leptospirosis. Symptoms range from flu symptoms to organ failure if the disease is not stopped in time with the right antibiotics. The consumption of garden products growing close to the ground can also make you sick if they come into contact with rat urine.

Hanta virus: transmission through mouse feces

The Hanta virus is usually transmitted through dry mouse droppings in the dust that is blown up. It can cause serious damage to health. Infection with the Hanta virus is now one of the five most common reportable viral diseases. The problem: Many patients and doctors do not know the Hanta virus and do not know that it can cause such severe discomfort and organ damage:

  • Similar to a strong flu-like infection, an unusually high fever occurs, along with muscle and bone pain.
  • The kidney function deteriorates up to the point of kidney failure.
  • Life-threatening bleeding can also occur.

Doctors can only treat the symptoms of the infection. The main thing is that the kidneys recover. Lots of fluids and, in the worst case, blood washing (dialysis) are the only promising measures, because there is neither a therapy specifically directed against the Hanta virus nor a vaccine. Therefore any contact with mice and their excretions should be avoided.

Legionella in the soil and compost

Soil and compost can also contain legionella. While the classic Legionella pneumonophila occurs more in bodies of water, Legionella longbeachae has recently spread in compost.

Protection against accidents and infections in the garden

  • Hobby gardeners should always wear gloves and sturdy shoes.
  • Pay close attention when working with sharp tools such as ax, hatchet, scythe or scissors.
  • Always wear safety clothing when using devices such as chainsaws, log splitters and the like - even if you think you have everything under control.
  • Ventilate and humidify rooms with possible mouse feces for 30 minutes before entering so that dust is not raised.
  • Wear a well-sealing face mask and work gloves when sweeping the garden shed.
  • If something gets tangled in the lawnmower, always pull the plug or cut off the fuel supply before removing it. If you mow the lawn barefoot or in sandals, you risk severe foot injuries.
  • Electric secateurs also often lead to accidents, especially with children. These devices should therefore never be connected to the lawn and the knives must not be held close to the body. You should never work with the scissors over your head, as they can hardly be controlled in an emergency.
  • Shaky ladders, tripping hazards such as electric cables and garden hoses or wet terrace slabs can lead to dangerous falls.

First aid in case of injuries

If an injury occurs while working in the garden, the wound should be washed out immediately with water, disinfected and protected from further contamination with a plaster. If the wound starts to fester, the situation can worsen dramatically within a few hours. If in doubt, show the wound to a doctor or surgeon.

If a part of the body has been severed while gardening: wrap it up and bring it to the clinic. In no case put it directly on ice, because that can destroy the fine nerves.

Experts on the subject

Dr. Gabriele Groth, Senior Physician
Central emergency room
Asklepios Clinic Altona
Paul-Ehrlich-Strasse 1, 22763 Hamburg

Dr. Zaher Jandali, chief physician
Clinic for plastic, aesthetic, reconstructive and hand surgery
Evangelical Hospital Oldenburg
Steinweg 13-17
26122 Oldenburg
(0441) 236-25 60

Dr. Alexander Handschin, specialist in plastic and aesthetic surgery, hand surgery
J├╝rgensallee 46-48
22609 Hamburg
(040) 822 812 49

Dr. Okka Pfisterer, specialist in surgery / hand surgery
Clinic for hand and foot surgery
Agaplesion Diakonieklinikum Hamburg
High pasture 17
20259 Hamburg
(040) 790 20 24 01

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Visit | 05/26/2020 | 8:15 pm