Legionnaires’ disease is a form of pneumonia. It’s caused by bacteria called legionella that lives in moist conditions. You can catch the disease by inhaling airborne droplets or particles containing the bacteria.
The illness may be mild but can sometimes be fatal. It is more common in older people, particularly if they smoke, have poor immunity or a chronic illness.
Symptoms include dry coughing, high fever, chills, diarrhoea, shortness of breath, chest pains, headaches, excessive sweating, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.
Anyone who gets these symptoms should see their general practice team right away and let them know if you have been handling potting mix or compost.
Gardeners are at particular risk of catching Legionnaires' disease as the bacterium Legionella can be present in potting mix and compost. The bacteria thrives in warm, moist conditions and can cause a severe, even fatal disease if you inhale contaminated particles or droplets.
It is important gardeners follow five simple steps to avoid catching Legionnaires’ disease from potting mix or compost:
Page last updated: 27 November 2018
Is this page useful?