September 7, 2010

Legionnaire’s Disease … From Gardening?

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- A case report in this week's issue of The Lancet, investigates an unusual situation where a man contracted Legionnaire's disease through a cut in his hand while planting with potting compost.

Legionnaire's disease is a common pneumonia that is typically caused by Legionella pneumophila. Legionnaire's disease caused by L longbeachae is much less common. There have only been nine reported cases of this kind in the United Kingdom since 1984.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Legionnaire's disease can be very serious and can cause death in up to 30 percent of cases. However, most cases can be treated successfully with antibiotics.

The 67-year-old man in the report had symptoms of fever with trembling, confusion, lethargy and shortness of breath. He later tested positive for Legionella longbeachae. The patient said he was an avid gardener. He had cut his left index finger two weeks before his symptoms started while planting with compost. Experts assumed this was the site of entry for the organism. The man was treated with levofloxacin and was discharged from the hospital.

The UK Royal Horticultural Society has issued warnings about the risk of contracting Legionnaire's disease from handling compost. They have announced that bags of potting compost will carry cautionary statements.

SOURCE: The Lancet, September 2, 2010