The Royal Horticultural Society have issued some useful advice about avoiding Legionnaires disease in the garden.
Guy Barter, RHS Chief Horticultural Advisor says;
“First of all we would like to emphasise that the risk to gardeners of getting Legionnaires and similar diseases is small and with simple precautions this risk will be negligible.”
“Legionellosis, which is caused by a Legionella bacteria, is an infectious disease that can be caught by anyone. Elderly gardeners and those with a suppressed immune system are however most vulnerable.”
“The more common L. pneumonophila, which leads to a type of pneumonia, known as legionnaires disease, occurs naturally at low levels in watercourses but can multiply in standing water to potentially harmful levels when the water temperature is between 20°C to 45°C, which is feasible in greenhouses” Guy goes on to say.
“In potting compost it is another bacteria, Legionella longbeachae that causes concern as it occurs in soil and compost and can lead to respiratory disease.”
RHS advice is that gardeners should wear gloves whenever handling soil, compost, fertiliser or pesticides and also to wash hands thoroughly after being in the garden.
They suggest not opening bags of compost or potting media with your head right over it and to consider wearing a dust mask when turning compost heaps and handling potting media or other dusty materials.
It is also important to avoiding storing potting media in hot sunny places including greenhouses as these will heat up and may encourage Legionella.
Further advice for gardeners is available on the RHS website