What is legionnaires’ disease, how is it caused and is it deadly?
State corrections officials are investigating a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak at a prison in Stockon after an inmate from there died at an outside hospital.
The California Health Care Facility inmate tested positive in a post-death analysis for legionella, the bacteria that causes the disease, according to a California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation news release issued Tuesday. The disease is a type of pneumonia.
Another patient tested positive after CHCF tested 16 more inmates, according to the release. Fourteen tested negative and one result is still pending.
In an email on Friday, March 22, a prison health executive informed prison staff of two suspected cases of legionella, urging them to take precautions in two affected buildings.
A CDCR spokeswoman declined to provide any more details on the inmate death. Antibiotics are effective against the bacteria, which is typically only fatal in older patients or those with compromised immune systems.
“The source of Legionella is still under investigation,” the release states. “In an abundance of caution, CHCF is providing bottled water for drinking and hygienic functions, halting the use of any aerosolizing equipment, shutting down the use of showers in specific areas and providing education to both staff and patients.”
The disease grows in warm water and spreads through mists or vapors. It is not contagious.