Scots gardeners have been warned over a killer bug that may be hidden in compost. The Legionella bacteria, called Legionella longbeachae, comes from compost and has only affected gardeners in Scotland. The bacteria has claimed the life of one man and left five other people ill in the past five years.
This is the first case that has been linked to compost in the UK. Legionella bacteria is well known in Australia and New Zealand, where warning labels are placed on bags of compost.
Gardeners have now been advised wash their hands before eating or smoking if they have used compost.
Dr Martin Donaghy, of Health Protection Scotland, said: “Gardening is a very healthy hobby but, like anything in life, there’s a few risks.”
He added: “Over the past five years, we’ve had three confirmed cases of Legionella longbeachae, plus two ‘probable’ and one ‘possible’ so we do need to take steps to reduce the risk even further.”
Symptoms of the disease include diarrhoea, headaches, a dry cough and pneumonia. It can be treated with antibiotics.