Lab results reveal Richmond spa ‘likely source’ of deadly Legionnaires’ disease

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Lab results reveal Richmond spa 'likely source' of deadly Legionnaires’ disease
Google Maps, Feb. 2023.

Laboratory results have confirmed that a Richmond spa was the likely source of Legionnaires’ disease that resulted in the deaths of two recent customers, according to Contra Costa Health (CCH).

CCH began investigating Zen Day Spa at 12230 San Pablo Ave. on Aug. 4, after area hospitals reported two deaths from Leginnaires’ disease involving patients who had visited the business before becoming ill.

The business voluntarily closed Aug. 5 and remains closed under a CCH health order. While final reports from the lab are still pending, initial results of water and swab samples collected from the spa showed high concentrations of legionella bacteria, CCH said.

CCH has contacted over 30 percent of the spa’s recent customers and identified two more customers with lab-confirmed Legionnaires’ disease and another two customers suspected of having suffered from Legionnaires’ disease.

Due to the lab results, CCH issued an abatement order declaring the spa a public nuisance and ordering it to dispose of the hot tub and to have the affected space professionally cleaned. The business may not reopen until re-inspected by CCH.

The incident will result in investigations into other County spas and massage parlors, CCH said.

“Proper maintenance of hot tubs and pools is becoming increasingly important, both for businesses and private citizens who own tubs, as we continue to experience climate change,” said Dr. Ori Tzvieli, Contra Costa County health officer. “Higher temperatures make growth of legionella and bacteria more likely, and more prolific, in water that is not properly treated.”

CCH offers a swimming pool and spa inspection database to see recent inspection results of permitted public pools and hot tubs in Contra Costa County.

People who suspect an establishment is operating a public spa without a health permit can file a complaint online or by phoning 925-608-5500. Links to both the database and complaint form are available at cchealth.org/eh.

Information about which pools and spas need permits, as well as advice and instructions about proper maintenance, are available at ccheath.org/eh/recreational-health.