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.