New research shows that older gardeners are at a risk of contracting the Legionella bacteria because some of its strains have been detected in potting soil in Britain.
A proposal to introduce outstanding instruction labels on bags has being raised by scientists following the discovery of legionella bugs in 14 of all the 22 compost bags investigated.
Although many of these bacteria had no health impacts to people, a Legionella
Longbeachea found in four of all tested is often believed to spread the Legionnaires disease which can lead to death if not treated promptly.
This is seen as a minor risk to young healthy people though scientists cautioned gardeners against wearing worn out gloves and inhaling the compost dust. Additionally, the doctors recommend that people wash their hands after handling the material.
An outbreak associated with Logionella Legionbeachea that occurred recently in Scotland is believed to have infected six people with some needing intensive care. At university of Strathclyde in Scotland, Dr Tara Bettie who spearheaded the research says that, she does not see Legionella discovery in the compost sold in UK a surprise as the infectious bacteria spreads quickly through the environment.
Dr. Tara was however quick to note that a strategy to stop using peat in compost may result in greater incidence of Legionella longbeachae which would in turn lead to more infections. There is increasing use of sawdust and bark in making the compost that people sell in Britain. Sawdust and bark have for a long time been major components in potting soils in New Zealand and Australia where Legionella that are related with compost are very famous.
In 2003, Australia had to put warning labels on bags containing compost as a way of minimizing the spread of Legionnaires’ disease. New Zealand adopted this policy in 2005, two years after Australia.