It is inconclusive.

Alexandra woman Josie Padget (70) died of legionellosis on February 19, but health officials have yet to determine if the strain came from soil or water.

Legionellosis is often attributed to soil products like compost, potting mix, soil condition, but it can also be found in rivers, lakes, reservoirs, hot water systems, spas and hot and cold taps.

Mrs Padget’s husband Darrell Padget said: “They are about a month away from getting results. They have tested water and soil. I believe the strain Josie had was different to the normal one [but] I’m not sure.

“It wasn’t the normal run of the mill one from potting mix.”

For Mr Padget, his wife’s death is still raw.

The News interviewed him some two weeks after her death.

He said she was a very private person, but he wanted to tell her story in the hope it would raise awareness.

Mr Padget said she showed signs of illness, similar to that of a gastro bug, but as her condition worsened she was airlifted from Dunstan Hospital to the intensive care unit at Dunedin Hospital and was put into an induced coma.

She died about two days later.

“It all happened that quick.”

Until then, Mrs Padget was a perfectly healthy person, he said.

Mr Padget said not knowing the cause made him feel “uneasy”.

One thing he was sure of was that the support provided by hospital staff was “marvellous”.

“They certainly did everything they could in the short time they had.”

Mrs Padget was one of at least three Alexandra residents who have died of Legionnaires disease in recent months.

Handling soils

  • Advice when handling potting mix, soils or compost:
  • Wear a good quality, double strap mask that fits well and covers the nose and mouth.
  • Wear gloves to protect against skin infections and prevent spreading the legionella bug.
  • Open bags in a well ventilated space, away from the face.
  • Wash hands when finished.


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