Legionella deaths possibly linked to Richmond spa

Legionella deaths possibly linked to Richmond spa
Contra Costa Deputy Health Officer Dr. Meera Sreenivasan and Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia address the media following fatal illnesses possibly linked to a Richmond spa.

Two recent deaths linked to Legionnaires’ Disease are potentially linked to visits to the Zen Day Spa at 12230 San Pablo Ave., Richmond, according to Contra Costa Health (CCH).

Both people who died had reportedly visited the spa just days prior to the onset of their illnesses. CCH said it knows of a third person infected with Legionnaires’ Disease after using the jacuzzi tub at the Zen Day Spa in June. That patient recovered, officials said.

CCH inspectors said they found “no existing records indicating the business has ever been issued a permit for a spa or pool.” After learning of the deaths Thursday and Friday, CCH closed the spa and planned to send samples of the spa water for lab analysis to confirm for the presence of legionella bacteria. Preliminary results are expected by early this week.

“Legionnaires’ Disease presents as a severe form of pneumonia that can result in hospitalization, yet is treatable with antibiotics,” states CCH. “The incubation period following exposure is typically 2 to 14 days.”

Anyone who has visited the spa recently are asked to watch for symptoms such as shortness of breath, fever, chills and cough, and to seek immediate medical care under these circumstances. Healthcare providers are advised to test for legionella in patients with pnuemonia who have visited Zen Day Spa within two weeks of their illness. “Testing is also recommended for hospitalized patients with pneumonia of unknown cause,” CCH states.

While Legionella bacteria are commonly found in natural freshwater sources such as lakes and streams, health concerns arise when they grow and spread in human-made water systems such as hot tubs, health officials said. People can become infected after breathing in mist in a hot tub or via the use of hoses or faucets.

People over age 50 are at highest risk, as well as those with a past or current smoking history, individuals with chronic lung disease and those with weakened immune systems.

Legionnaires’ Disease does not spread from person to person.