Compost Harbors Legionnaire’s Disease Bacteria

Compost can harbor some surprising things.

Compost may harbor Legionella spp., the bacteria responsible for Legionnaire’s disease, a potentially deadly form of pneumonia. A recent study in the United Kingdom found the bacteria in 15 out of 24 commercially-available composts.

Previous research identified the bacteria in compost from Australia, Japan and Switzerland, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). In Australia, several cases of  Legionnaire’s disease were traced to contaminated compost in 1989.

“Any environment where you have pathogenic bacteria could be a source of infection,” said Tara K. Beattie of the University of Strathclyde and co-author of the recent study published in Clinical Microbiology and Infection in a press release. “It should be emphasized though, that although Legionella seem to be common in compost, human infection is very rare, especially if you consider the volume of compost sold and used.”

To avoid risks from bacteria-carrying composts, the study authors recommended opening bags of compost in well-ventilated areas. Gardeners should wash their hands thoroughly after handling compost.

Read the full story here.


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About jensera

Jennifer Harrington is a Toronto-based illustrator, writer and graphic designer. She illustrated the best-selling children’s book series 'A Moose in a Maple Tree,' which includes the titles 'A Moose in a Maple Tree,' 'The Night Before a Canadian Christmas' and 'Canadian Jingle Bells.' She is also the owner of JSH Graphics, a boutique graphic design agency that specializes in print and web advertising. With her latest project, Eco Books 4 Kids, Jennifer has partnered with illustrator Michael Arnott to create a series of ecologically-themed ebooks for children. Her next book, 'Spirit Bear,' is due for release in the Summer of 2013. Jennifer offers two different school presentations for her 'Moose in a Maple Tree' collection, an illustration demonstration and a Christmas concert series, which can be booked at She will be taking bookings for school readings of 'Spirit Bear' beginning in October 2013.

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