I have a couple of large compost bins on my allotment which I regularly
fill with compostable materials from home, but this only accounts for a
For the most part, I go to the local riding stables where they bag up
the horse manure and leave it outside for people to take for free.
In the winter time, when the horses are inside the stables, the mix is
heavy with straw and bedding. But now in the warmer months with the
horses outside , it is mainly stuff gathered straight off the paddock
areas where the horses pass their days.
The thing is this. The bins are 4'x3'x3' and I just do not have the
energy or strength to turn them. So , in effect they are cold compost
heaps. I let the contents rot down over a 2 year period.
But is there a danger that the pathogens in the horse dung will not die
off (as they would if I were operating a hot heap) and that my family
could become seriously ill if I use this composted material on my
vegetable plot even if it is 2 years old?
There is no concern with pathogens with manure from vegetarian beasts except
perhaps if you know the beast to be ill with a disease transmittable to
humans. In your case I'd be more concerned with viable weed seeds.
Weeds aren't a great problem for me.. I got the time and I love weeding
most days. Most of my weeds anyway are in-blown from other plots so I
always expect them.
But thanks for the re-assurance on the pathogens though. I'd hate to
grow my own crops and then find I make my family ill.
Ed, your biggest concern should be whether or not the horse's paddock was
sprayed with a broadleaf herbicide. The herbicide will pass harmlessly
through the horse and wipe out you garden. Check with the source of your
manure, it would be heartbreaking to have that happen.
FarmI wrote last Oct. "I also spread horse poop as it comes (often
almost still steaming) straight onto garden beds and it results in a
huge worm population explosion."
I might mention that she is still with us, which argues favorably for
the use of fresh manure. Most will caution against getting fresh manure
on the edible parts of the plant (touching or splashed) for at least 3
More often the advice is to work fresh manure into the ground 3 months
Standard procedure is to compost (hot or cold) for 6 months before use,
or to incorporate it into the soil in the fall.
There are three kinds of men: The ones that learn by reading. The few who
Yes, indeed. Farmyard or stable manure is wonderful stuff if you can get
it, but there's one particular herbicide persisting in manure that has
caused quite serious problems for some allotmenteers and gardeners in
recent years. There's info on the RHS site:
It can also be quite difficult to actually find out if any particular
load is 'clean', unless the source can be absolutely certain that all
their feed and bedding is clear too, because of buying and selling of
hay and silage feed.
One case I know of locally happened where cattle manure from one farm
where they didn't use this stuff was affected, unbeknownst to the
farmer, due to contaminated feed and hay bought in from elsewhere.
That is essentially true. There are very few diseases with sufficiently
resistant spores that they will survive any form of composting, and most
of those are extremely implausible. None will contaminate vegetables,
anyway, and the only risk is getting the compost into a cut, eating it
if you don't wash it off, etc.
The only ones that are at all likely are carried by cats and other
carnivores, as you say. Worrying about tetanus and anthrax is not a
productive activity ....
Pathogens in Horse dung? Please advise what and any scientific papers that
back it up. I know it is a big carrier of Tetanus but not heard about
anything else of concern.
"No major human disease has ever been accurately attributed to the intimate
contact human beings have had with horses for thousands of years.
Veterinarians and vet students probably have the greatest exposure to true
risk from horse manure. The horse has a very inefficient gut: it's a one-way
throughput system. Horses are physiologically incapable of vomiting or
regurgitating. If something gets stuck on the way through, the only way to
get it out is by surgery or physical intervention. As a result, you will
often find vets armpit deep under a horse's tail. Nevertheless, there has
never been a documented case of veterinarians contracting illness as a
result of this rather extreme true exposure to horse manure."
We use well rotted 1 year old stuff and have never had any trouble.
However, with both tetanus and anthrax, you are likely to have trouble
only if the dung comes from a stable where they shovel dead horses
out with the bedding. Not generally the case ....
Oh, nuts! WHAT increase in tetanus and gas-gangrene in the UK?
The historical dangers were because a LOT of farm animals died from
tetanus, anthrax etc. and the spores were everywhere. Well, they
still are, but are not transmitted by that route any more because
of the efficiency with which infected animals are detected and
disposed of. Yes, keep your tetanus innoculation up to date, but
don't use two century old information as a guide to safe practices.
A lot of the others you mention are something that most people have
some immunity to, or even aren't pathogens at all (for example, you
NEED E. coli to stay healthy). There is also increasing evidence
that preventing children from being exposed to them increases the
risk of much more serious problems. Exercise your immune system
and stop fussing.
Yes, of course, some people are at special risk. Don't START
training your immune system in old age or when ill, and so on.
Depends which E. coli you are talking about. Many strains are highly
pathogenic; I wouldn't like 0157 in me, for example, immunosuppressed or
not. More info here if you don't mind being too bored:
For "highly", read "slightly"!
I wouldn't worry about 0157 - indeed, I may have it, for all I know
to the contrary - as it is dangerous only to the very young, very
old and immunosuppressed. If you look at the reference you gave,
most of the pathogenic forms are described as dangerous to infants.
All forms (even the symbiotic ones) are dangerous if they grow in
the wrong place, which is one of the reasons you need immunity to
a wide range of them.
In the Odwall Apple juice case an 18 month old infant died. In the Dole
spinach case, 3 octagenarians died, and in the latest, Nestle Toll House
Refrigerated Cookie Dough, no one died. However, it is reported that e.
coli O157:H7 really opens the sluices at both ends. Maybe not deadly,
but not a walk in the park, either.
The FDA suggested that you "contact your health care professional
immediately, if you or your family have recently eaten recalled cookie
dough and have had stomach cramps, vomiting, or diarrhea, with or
without bloody stools."
There are three kinds of men: The ones that learn by reading. The few who
Depends. May be true for neonatal meningitis (1:2000), but certainly not
for UTI. Quote "Uropathogenic E. coli (UPEC) cause 90% of the urinary tract
infections (UTI) in anatomically-normal, unobstructed urinary tracts.". I
am amazed that the figure is so high. There are a lot of women out there
with UTIs caused by UPEC.
I'm not arguing about how dangerous it is, merely commenting on
pathogenicity. I've not had E. coli gut problems, but have had Salmonella,
so can speak from experience about the pathogenicity of bacteria affecting
the gut. Certainly not dangerous, but very debilitating, especially in a
True for neonatal meningitis (couldn't really be anything else with that
name!). but not so for UTI - see above quote.
I definitely agree with you on that. Constant exposure to low levels of
bacteria is needed to keep the immune system ticking over properly. "Use it
or lose it" applies here!
I believe that you have misunderstood that. What I have been told
and read is that ALL variants are uropathogenic, if they establish
there, and the vast majority of such infections are normal gut flora
that have got into the wrong place. And it's not rare in men, either!
So what it means is that 90% of such UTIs are E. coli, variant unknown.
They don't usually bother to serotype further, as it doesn't affect
So one recommendation should definitely be not to indulge in kinky
practices with fresh horse manure :-)
More seriously, that is the reason for the various hand washing and
body washing order recommendations, and instructions to parents on how
to bathe children, especially girls.
it is a trade off, but organically produced food is safer according to this
Follow these tips to help reduce your risk of exposure to MRSA in meats:
Look for the USDA organic seal. Organic meat might be less likely to have
antibiotic-resistant or disease-causing organisms, as the animal hasn't been fed
antibiotics, hormones to promote growth, or animal by-products. Other labels,
no antibiotics added, are not verified by independent testing.
Log on to eatwellguide.org to search for listings of stores and restaurants that
offer no-antibiotic-use, grass-fed, or organic meats.
Stock up on nonmeat protein sources such as beans, lentils, and tofu and swap
for meat now and then. Visit prevention.com/veggies for recipe ideas. "
"You may not have the same close contact with meat that a processing plant worker
has, but scientists warn there is reason for concern: Most of us handle meat
as we bread chicken cutlets, trim fat from pork, or form chopped beef into
Cooking does kill the microbe, but MRSA thrives on skin, so you can contract it
touching infected raw meat when you have a cut on your hand, explains Stuart
MD, a Tufts University professor of microbiology and medicine. MRSA also
in nasal passages, so touching your nose after touching meat gives the bug
way into your body, adds Smith.
Tainted meat exposed
Extensive research in Europe and Asia has found MRSA in many food animal
in the past year, US researchers have begun testing meat sold here. Scientists at
Louisiana State University Agricultural Center tested 120 cuts of locally
meat and found MRSA in 4 percent of the pork and 1 percent of the beef. A
of Maryland scientist found it in 1 out of 300 pork samples from the Washington,
area. And a study in Canada (from which we import thousands of tons of meat
found MRSA in 9 percent of 212 pork samples. The percentages may be small, but
according to the USDA, Americans eat more than 180 million pounds of meat every
"When you consider the tiny size of the meat studies, the fact that they found
contamination at all is amazing," says Steven Roach, public health program
for Food Animal Concerns Trust.
In some cases, the tainted meat probably came from infected animals; in others,
already infected humans could have passed on MRSA to the meat during processing.
Regardless of where it originated, even a small proportion of contaminated meat
mean a tremendous amount of MRSA out there. "We need more US research to figure
what's going on," says Roach."
Somewhere between zone 5 and 6 tucked along the shore of Lake Michigan
on the council grounds of the Fox, Mascouten, Potawatomi, and Winnebago
Sorry missing clause in original post. Should have read :-
The various enteritis illness, some trivial some not so, have increased
in frequency by a couple of orders of magnitude since the 1960's. If you
refer back to your old bacteriology notes you will see that Cl. tet. and
Cl Wel. are both common commensals in the herbivore gut and their
sporulation occurs in the soil after the horse or cow has excreted the
bugs. Sure, tetanus and gas-gangrene are now rare in the UK; probably
because any injury requiring even outpatient treatment get an AT shot as
routine. From time to time cases occur of very trivial injuries - eg
thorn prickles whilst pruning, which are not considered worth further
attention until tetanus has developed.
Yep, we all need or resident E. coli - but not one of the enteropathic
strains. If you are into organic methods treat any edible produce as
Oh, really? Do you have any evidence that this is anything more than
a recording artifact? Back in the 1960s, most people didn't call a
doctor for mere D&V, whereas they do now. Related to this, there has
been a HUGE increase in the number of people who are seriously infirm,
because modern medical aid prevents them dying from other causes.
A secondary effect, which particularly affects the serious incidents,
is that the population has much less immunity now than it did then,
because it has not had the exposure. It isn't clear how much that
affects the statistics.
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