San Quentin State Prison confirms case of Legionnaires' disease

Saturday, August 29, 2015
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A prisoner at San Quentin State Prison has contracted Legionnaires' disease. The inmate was transferred to an outside hospital and all running water has been shut off at the facility.

SAN QUENTIN STATE PRISON -- Water has been shut off at San Quentin State Prison following a possible outbreak of Legionnaires' disease.

One prisoner has a confirmed case and at least two dozen other inmates are being tested for the illness.

The prison shut off the water because the disease can be spread through water systems, and over 3,000 inmates are now using portable bathrooms. Officials also brought in 2,000 bottles of water and a tanker with 4,000 gallons Thursday night.

A relative of a prisoner said without running water, inmates aren't showering and toilets haven't been flushed.

"There are no facilities to be used and feces and urine are all backed up in the toilet," she said.

Prison officials admit the conditions are not comfortable.

"It's not third world, but there are times when we lock the prison down and inmates don't normally have access to showers," Lt. Sam Robinson said.

Officials are not sure how long testing will take. All volunteer groups are not being allowed onto the grounds until the facility has been cleared.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, symptoms for Legionnaires' disease resemble pneumonia and can include cough, shortness of breath, high fever, muscle aches and headaches.

The CDC said people get sick by breathing in mist or vapor containing the bacteria, but it is effectively treated with antibiotics.

There have been several outbreaks of Legionnaires' disease this year, including one at a New York Hotel and an Illinois veterans' home. Two deaths are also blamed on the illness in Canada.