Legionella cases caused by compost

Compost has been identified as a likely source of the legionella causes last year. Neil Hanna

Compost has been identified as a likely source of the legionella causes last year. Neil Hanna

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BAGS of compost sold in the Lothians and east of Scotland have been identified as the likely source of a cluster of legionella cases last year, a report has found.

Between August and October 2013, six confirmed cases and one probable case of Legionella longbeachae were reported in the Lothian and Tayside areas, as the Evening News revealed in September last year.

The major source of human infection with Legionella longbeachae is considered to be commercial growing media, such as soils and composts sold through garden centres, and other composted materials such as bark and sawdust. Older people are more at risk.

A new report by Health Protection Scotland has now found that all seven patients had spent time in the garden or outdoors in the two weeks prior to their illness, and six had recently bought compost.

But the investigators found that the products used by the patients were bought at different times at different premises.

The compost was found to originate in five different manufacturers at five different sites in England, Scotland, Ireland and Northern Ireland.

There have been only 19 cases of legionella since 2008 in Scotland.