Experts warn of Legionnaires risk in compost as summer sets in

The age-old Kiwi 'she'll be right' attitude is concerning professionals, as Legionnaires disease makes headlines ahead of a hot summer.

So far this year, 13 people have been admitted to Christchurch Hospital with Legionnaires disease - and with a hot spring and summer predicted, authorities expect that number to rise.

Legionella is a bacterium which lives in warm bags of potting mix and compost, and can cause a serious form of pneumonia.

Gerry Kelly contracted the disease after giving gardening a go last year.

"I was putting in new potting mix there and I was stirring it up," said Mr Kelly.

"I had gloves on but knew I should wear a mask - but I thought we go overboard on safety these days, so I carried on and was really enjoying it."

While he was one of the lucky ones to survive, Mr Kelly was in intensive care for a week and can now only use 70 percent of his lungs.

Gardening shops are actively trying to inform gardeners how to handle potting mix safely, including with signage on bags of compost.

The advice is to always wear gloves and a mask, and open potting mix always away from your face with scissors in a well-ventilated area. The mix should always be dampened with water to avoid breathing in dust.

It is a message Mr Kelly certainly supports.

"I advise everybody: if you're out using potting mix, wear a mask - it's as simple as that".