Why you should beware of your compost when gardening

If you are gardening this weekend beware of contracting Legionnaires' disease from your compost

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If you are gardening this weekend you should beware of your compost - photo credit - Medical News Today

WASHINGTON, July 7, 2017 – One of the most relaxing past times for many is spending time puttering around in the backyard garden. But according to Medical News Today, if you do not wash your hands your garden’s compost may present a very seriously dangerous connection to contracting Legionnaires’ disease.

For most gardeners, tilling the soil in order to produce some great tomatoes, green beans, squash and other tasty vegetables, the thought of encountering a possible disease from the soil is the last possible thought in their mind.

Yet according to researchers at the University of Otago in New Zealand, one less known cause for Legionnaires’ disease is a bacterium called Legionella longbeachae, which can be found in certain types of compost.

The recent study which was, co-authored by Prof. Patricia Priest and colleagues examined how inhalation and ingestion of these products may cause Legionnaires’ disease.


They reported their study’s findings in Emerging Infectious Diseases, a journal of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The study revealed that “gardening is a significant risk factor for Legionnaires’ disease; almost all patients with the condition reported gardening in the 3 weeks prior to becoming ill, which involved coming into contact with purchased compost products.”

This of course does not mean that you should abandon your gardens but the study does raise some concerns as well as precautions that gardeners should consider. It is important to understand that most people who are exposed to the Legionella bacteria, will not become ill, yet some people are more susceptible.

According to the CDC, “These studies found that preexisting cardiac or respiratory disease, long-term smoking, gardening, exposure to hanging baskets, using potting mix, and eating or drinking after gardening without washing hands were risk factors for this disease. O’Connor et al. suggested that both inhalation and ingestion were potential modes of transmission and advised that long-term smokers and those with respiratory and cardiac conditions should take particular care of their hygiene during and after gardening.”

In order to be safe gardeners who are especially at risk, should:

• Open compost or potting mix away from their face
• Keep the bag as close to the ground as possible so that you do not breathe in the product
• Wash hands immediately after having contact with the compost/potting mixture

Gardeners can continue to enjoy your garden and its produce for many years to come by simply taking simple precautions to remain safe and not at lower risk for lower risk of Legionnaires’ disease.

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Kevin Fobbs
Kevin Fobbs began writing professionally in 1975. He has been published in the "New York Times," and has written for the "Detroit News," "Michigan Chronicle," “GOPUSA,” "Soul Source" and "Writers Digest" magazines as well as the Ann Arbor and Cleveland "Examiner," "Free Patriot," "Conservatives4 Palin" and "Positively Republican." The former daily host of The Kevin Fobbs Show on conservative News Talk WDTK - 1400 AM in Detroit, he is also a published author. His Christian children’s book, “Is There a Lion in My Kitchen,” hit bookstores in 2014. He writes for Communities Digital News, and his weekly show "Standing at Freedom’s Gate" on Community Digital News Hour tackles the latest national and international issues of freedom, faith and protecting the homeland and heartland of America as well as solutions that are needed. Fobbs also writes for Clash Daily, Renew America and BuzzPo. He covers Second Amendment, Illegal Immigration, Pro-Life, patriotism, terrorism and other domestic and foreign affairs issues. As the former 12-year Community Concerns columnist with The Detroit News, he covered community, family relations, domestic abuse, education, business, government relations, and community and business dispute resolution. Fobbs obtained a political science and journalism degree from Eastern Michigan University in 1978 and attended Wayne State University Law School. He spearheaded and managed state and national campaigns as well as several of President George W. Bush's White House initiatives in areas including Education, Social Security, Welfare Reform, and Faith-Based Initiatives.