21 de fev. de 2014

Legionella victim says compost must carry warning

A GARDENER left fighting for his life after being struck down by a rare legionella bug today added his voice to calls for the introduction of warning labels on bags of compost.

Iain Fraser, who owns the Elephant House coffee and tea room on George IV Bridge where JK Rowling penned part of the first Harry Potter book, spent more than three weeks in hospital in September.
The 61-year-old was one of six people hospitalised after contracting the legionella longbeachae bug, which is linked to compost and potting materials.
His condition became so serious that concerned doctors advised his children, living in New Zealand, to fly to the Capital as they believed he may not survive.
An outbreak in the Lothian region last year led to a flurry of warnings to the public, informing them of precautions they could take to lessen the chances of infection.
And with cases on the rise in Scotland, Mr Fraser today said he believes warning labels should be added to compost packaging – a measure than has already been adopted in Australia and New Zealand where the bug is traditionally more common.
But the Scottish Government today said it had “no plans” to act on Mr Fraser’s pleas, arguing that there was no evidence the step had worked in the Southern Hemisphere.
Mr Fraser, of Stockbridge, said: “I was quite a fit 61-year-old, but I nearly died. I have two kids in New Zealand and my wife was told to get them over now because I might not see them again.”
Mr Fraser said he is now well on the road to recovery, but that warning labels should be added to compost.
“I’m not after publicity, I just want the warning labels,” he added. “I became very ill dealing with a bag of compost and I know there are five others.”
Mr Fraser came forward after the Evening News revealed how Margaret Malcolm, 72, was left close to death by the bug. The grandmother of ten, from Prestonpans, also called for warnings to be added to compost bags to highlight the risks, saying many people were oblivious to the dangers.
But the Scottish Government today appeared to pour cold water on the appeals for warnings to be added to packs.
A spokeswoman said: “The current British Institute of Standards guidance already requires manufacturers to provide generic information on safe handling and use of compost. There are currently no plans to introduce specific warning labels on bags of compost. Research has shown that specific labelling on this issue has little or no impact.”

European Hygienic Engineering and Design Group - EHEDG Guidelines for Legionella em Português

O guia já está disponível em português. Contou com a colaboração da SETRI.

20 de fev. de 2014

Father’s plea after disease claims daughter’s life - Legionella

A PAPER mask worth a few cents would have saved the life of a Collie woman who died from Legionnaires Disease.
That is the view of Mark Hutchings, who lost his 42-year-old daughter, Sharon Camisa, on January 14 after she contracted a strain of the bacteria linked to potting mix.
Mr Hutchings is the first to say his daughter should have sought medical treatment sooner.
His mission is not to lay blame on manufacturers or the health system, rather, he wants to warn everyone about the dangers of using potting mix without a mask, so no other family has to suffer the heartache his has.
Mr Hutchings also wants legislation introduced that would see dust masks attached to, if not alongside, potting mix at the point of sale.
Ms Camisa died in Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital after spending weeks in a coma, leaving a husband, two children and a grandchild.
"In the end her lungs were so damaged they fell apart," Mr Hutchings said.
"She haemorrhaged to death. It was a nightmare for everyone, weeks watching her die slowly."
While Ms Camisa lived with a form of arthritis, Mr Hutchings described his daughter as "a very health-conscious person".
"She had her own home gym and did half an hour on that each morning before she went to work and an hour when she got home and she also did pilates," he said.
Indeed, when Ms Camisa first became ill she and those around her attributed it to her arthritis, which she had been taking medication for.
On December 2, Mr Hutchings wife urged Ms Camisa to see a doctor when she began vomiting.
Ms Camisa's boss at Chicken Treat joined Mr Hutchings and his wife in pleading with her to visit the hospital when, several days later, her condition deteriorated.
On December 9, Mr Hutchings received a phone call from Ms Camisa, who was in agony, asking him to come over. He half carried her to the car then drove her to Collie Hospital, where she was admitted for pain management.
"They thought it might have been a negative reaction to her arthritis medication," Mr Hutchings said.
"They contacted her specialist and she was put on new medication. That didn't fix the problem."
On December 15, following an x-ray, Ms Camisa was diagnosed with pneumonia and transferred to Bunbury Hospital, where she was placed in an induced coma and airlifted to Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital and placed on life support.
"That's when they did a cultures test and found out she had Legionnaire's disease, a strain linked to potting mix."
It was early to mid-November that Ms Camisa had begun re-potting plants, Mr Hutchings recalled.
"She put all the potting mix and fertiliser and everything on a blanket and sat there under the verandah and did a whole lot of potting in her backyard," Mr Hutchings said.
"She was experimenting with a range of potting mixes and fertilisers. It's irrelevant what type, it (the legionella bacteria) could have been in any of them".
Mr Hutchings said he had heard of Legionnaire's disease, but associated it with water towers and air conditioners.
"I looked up the warning on the front of one product and it said 'more details on the back', I just read that there were microorganisms inside and I thought, well, of course there are microorganisms in the soil," Mr Hutchings said.
"I didn't read the more details on the back. I didn't realise it was Legionnaire's. It was only afterwards that I looked in more detail and they do specify it on the packets. They've done the right thing and put it on the packets, but we didn't see it.
"Sharon's problem was that she left it too long to see a doctor and therefore she wasn't diagnosed straight away.
"If she had gone in when we first begged her to, and her boss begged her to, she would have gone in with flu symptoms and it would have been diagnosed quickly. She wouldn't have got the wrong antibiotics and she would have almost certainly lived, she was young and healthy.
"Even if she had gone in a day earlier than she did, she wouldn't have been in so much pain and there may have been greater emphasis on the flu symptoms and they could have diagnosed it."
There was a frightening lack of awareness about the risk of contracting Legionnaire's disease from potting mix, Mr Hutchings said, but simple solutions could save lives.
"We could be talking about hundreds of deaths a year in Australia if you put it all together," he said.
"I'd like to see flat surgical masks attached to the outside of potting mix bags.
"The fact that the mask is supplied will help people realise the dangers and use that mask. We might not be able to convince everyone to use it, but even if half of them did it could make a huge difference.
"Even if they were sold near the potting mix, instead of the packs just recommending they be used, it would help.
"Some supermarkets sell the dust masks but some don't and they're not always near each other (at the point of sale).
"If the government made it law that they were sold together, it would help draw people's attention to the need to wear a mask when using potting mix."
While still very much in mourning for his daughter, Mr Hutchings is determined to get his message out there so her death will not be in vain.
"It has really affected the family - no one's been coping well," Mr Hutchings said.
"Sharon's daughter was getting married in April, but her wedding has been deferred until next year now.
"Everything's just fallen apart so badly. We love Collie but we're now questioning whether we should stay."
Mr Hutchings said he was horrified when he recently watched a television lifestyle program where children were potting plants without protective gear.
"It's too late to help Sharon, but hopefully we can help someone else," Mr Hutchings said.
"If reading her story saves one life, telling it will have been worth it."

17 de fev. de 2014

14 de fev. de 2014


          A SETRI participou em 2013 do encontro em Chicago

13 de fev. de 2014

Gran’s Legionella hell linked to compost - Legionella longbeachae

Edinburgh News 13/02/2014

A GRANDMOTHER today told for the first time how she was left fighting for her life after falling victim to a deadly bug linked to humble potting compost.

At one point 72-year-old Margaret Malcolm deteriorated so badly that her family was warned she faced being placed on a life support system. She spent three weeks in hospital – mostly in intensive care – drifting in and out of consciousness as her lungs failed and concerns grew that she might not pull through.
Now home in Prestonpans, the frail grandmother-of-ten says she is still suffering lingering and debilitating after-effects of potentially deadly Legionella longbeachae, usually linked to inhaling dust from man-made potting compost.
She is now preparing to launch a legal fight for compensation and has appealed for warnings on compost bags to highlight the risks.
“I never knew that there was a chance of catching something like Legionella from a bag of compost and I don’t think many people do,” she said. “People need to know.
“It’s changed my life,” she added. “I get so breathless now. I used to be able to get about, walk to the bus stop and go to Tesco – now there’s no way I can do that. I have to rely on my daughters to do all my shopping for me.
“I even struggle to get up and down the stairs in my house. My confidence has been shattered by it. I’m constantly tired. I’ve been told I could be feeling like this for a year.”
Mrs Malcolm was one of six Scots to fall ill with potentially lethal Legionella longbeachae last September. Five cases were in Lothian and another one in Tayside. All needed hospital treatment and the cases were linked by health officials to gardening compost.
However, six months later, laboratory tests have only just been completed. And it will be a further two months before a report on the outbreak is likely to be published – raising concerns that others may have similar products and are unaware of the potential risks.
Today Mr and Mrs Malcolm’s lawyer Mark Gibson, a product liability law specialist based at Digby Brown solicitors, pointed out some other countries have put in place compulsory hygiene warnings and safety instructions to alert users to the Legionella threat posed by compost.
“The shocking part of this is that it involves such a 
mundane, everyday packaged product and users, quite rightly, do not expect to be exposed to potentially fatal strains of bacteria,” he added.
“The demographic of compost users includes many older people with underlying health issues which make them vulnerable. The dangers associated with the use of compost have been known to trade associations for some time and British standards ought to have been developed and followed. There were simple and cost-effective measures which could have prevented these very serious infections such as heat treatment of the product and the use of face masks.”
Mrs Malcolm had been working in her back garden in Northfield Gardens, Prestonpans, one day last summer. Within 24 hours her health had dramatically deteriorated.
“I had been repotting some plants,” she recalled. “Next day I was sitting with my neighbour having a wee blether when I got up and felt funny and a bit sick. I just flaked out.”
She was rushed to the Western General Hospital by ambulance with husband David, 78, by her side. “I didn’t know what was going on,” he said. “She was unconscious and the longer it went on, the worse I was starting to feel about what was happening. When the hospital staff said she was going into intensive care, I just thought ‘Oh my God’. Eventually we were told it was Legionella and it was like a pneumonia attacking her lungs.”
She was given antibiotics and oxygen but her condition failed to improve. “When they started to talk about her going on life support, our daughters were in tears. Thank goodness it didn’t come to that. When I heard there were other cases at the same time and that it was being linked to potting compost, I really couldn’t believe it. Who would think potting compost could do that?”
Mrs Malcolm had bought three 56-litre bags of J Arthur Bowers Multi-Purpose Compost from Strawberry Corner in Musselburgh and opened one to pot her plants. The only warning on the bag suggests users wear gloves.
A recent letter to the couple from Eleanor Smyth, Acting Principal Environmental Health Officer for East Lothian Council confirmed the Glasgow-based Legionella Reference laboratory was still testing the compost. However she confirmed: “The major source of human infection [from Legionella longbeachae] is considered to be commercial growing media and other composted materials such as bark and sawdust.
“As there has not been concerns from industry with regards the specific brand of compost associated with cases of Legionella, the product has not been withdrawn from market.”
Last October a Strathclyde University study into the 22 different compost brands sold in the UK revealed 14 contained a variety of Legionella species. Four were found to have L. longbeachae.
It is believed changes in how compost is manufactured, from being mostly peat to now including sawdust and bark, have created a breeding ground for the bug to thrive. When users open the bag and breathe in the spores – or inhale droplets of water dripping from hanging baskets – infection can occur.
It’s understood Mrs Malcolm’s compensation claim could focus both on the manufacturer of the compost and the Musselburgh garden centre which sold it.
Dr Syed Ahmed, Consultant in Public Health, Health Protection Scotland said a report on the outbreak is likely in the next few months: “It is important that all members of the National Incident Management Team have an opportunity to review the report before it is finalised.
“The risk of becoming unwell from gardening activities (such as working with compost) remains very low. However, we would recommend good hygiene in relation to gardening – wearing gloves, a mask, and washing hands immediately after use.”
J Arthur Bowers compost is made by Lincoln-based William Sinclair Horticulture Ltd. A spokesman for the company said: “William Sinclair has committed to ensuring advice with regard to good hygiene practice will be included on all labelling. We believe this response is proportionate to the very low level of risk involved.
We were sorry to hear of the illness that the lady from Edinburgh suffered, and we hope she has made a full recovery”.
Neil Duffield, a director at Strawberry Corner garden centre, said: “We take advice from our suppliers. There are warnings on the bags to wash your hands and I have seen some bags which give instructions on opening them in well ventilated places. We are guided by that.”

Number of cases is on the increase

Once unheard of in Britain, Legionella longbeachae cases have increased in recent years.
The main source of infection is commercially made compost. Between 2008 and 2012 there were nine cases of L.longbeachae notified to Health Protection Scotland. Two people died and all others were seriously ill. All had links with gardening.
In the same period there was only one case in England and Wales. Concern at Health Protection Scotland prompted an investigation last year by its National Incident Management Team. It probed similarities with high incidences of the illness in Australia – where compost is made using mostly sawdust and bark, materials which are being used to replace traditional peat in many UK manufactured composts.
Australian composts carry a manufacturer’s warning and advice to wear gloves and a facemask while handling. Heat treating the compost during production can kill the legionella bacteria. The HPS report concluded: “There is a definite but very small risk of L.longbeachae infection from using growing media in those undertaking gardening activities in Scotland.”
And it warned: “Given the increasing popularity of gardening as a hobby and the growing number of over-65s with a higher prevalence of at-risk conditions in the population likely to participate in it, further cases of Legionnaires’ disease due to this cause can be expected.”

6 de fev. de 2014

Fatal Edinburgh Legionnaires' outbreak to be probed by Crown Service

Legionnaire's Disease: Legionella bacteria on a microscope slide.Centres for Disease Control/James Gathany

Prosecutors are to consider a report into a fatal outbreak of Legionnaires' disease two years ago.
Four people died and 45 others needed hospital treatment after contracting the disease in Edinburgh in June 2012.
Following an investigation, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has submitted its findings to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS).
A dedicated health and safety unit will consider the report.
Cooling towers in the south-west of Edinburgh have previously been identified as a possible source of the Legionella bacteria.
A total of 92 people were affected by the outbreak, which cost NHS Lothian £725,800.
An HSE spokeswoman said: "HSE has submitted some reports to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service and there are others in the process of being sent. HSE's investigation continues."
A spokesman for COPFS confirmed the HSE was in the process of submitting a number of reports on the circumstances of the outbreak to its health and safety division.
He said: "As in all cases, the COPFS will give full and careful consideration to all of the facts and circumstances.
"Where there is sufficient credible evidence of a crime, the matter will be thoroughly investigated and prosecuted."
Legionnaires' disease is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia and is caught by inhaling small droplets of water, suspended in the air, containing harmful levels of Legionella bacteria.
The bacteria is common in rivers and ponds but exposure is more likely from water systems such as cooling towers and spa pools.

The symptoms of Legionnaires' disease are similar to those of flu and include high temperature, a cough, muscle pain and headaches.

3 de fev. de 2014

Surtos relacionados à água nos EUA (2009-2010): Legionella é grande causa


Pyramids Reopens After Detection of Legionella Bacteria Forced Closure

The Pyramids in Southsea has reopened today following the detection of Legionella Bacteria on Thursday.
The centre had been closed for two days for further investigation and deep chlorination of the water.
A spokesperson from the Pyramids, now managed by BH Live, announced this evening, "The Legionella bacteria has  now been eradicated and the team is continuing to monitor the water quality on an ongoing basis."
The gym, pool and soft play area has reopened today (Saturday 1st Februray) but the spa and showers remain closed as a precautionary measure.

Customers are advised to check the centre's website at social media channels. Planned events at the venue are not affected.