SAN QUENTIN – The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, along with the Marin County Public Health Department and California Correctional Health Care Services, are investigating the source of a confirmed case of Legionnaires’ disease at San Quentin State Prison.
Legionnaires’ disease is a severe form of pneumonia. It’s caused by the bacterium Legionella pneumophila found in both potable and non-potable water systems. The illness is carried via aerosolized water, such as steam, mist and moisture.
On Aug. 26, an inmate was transported to an outside hospital where he was diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease and is being treated. He is currently in stable condition. There are two other inmates who have been hospitalized after displaying symptoms but have not officially been diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease.
In addition, approximately 30 inmates are under observation for pneumonia-like symptoms but have not yet been diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease. All unconfirmed cases are being treated at San Quentin’s on-site medical unit.
To eliminate the spread of the bacteria, San Quentin has limited water use at the prison.
After consulting with local, state and national public-health experts familiar with the transmission of Legionnaires’, the prison will resume the use of plumbed toilets inside the facility’s housing units, and monitored use of water for cooking. Secondary water sources such as bottled water and water tanks will continue to be used for consumption until it is deemed safe to resume normal water use.
San Quentin is a reception center for new inmates to the California prison system. Intake has been temporarily halted as the investigation continues.
San Quentin receives its water supply from the Marin County Municipal Water District and stores the water in a three-million gallon tank on-site.
San Quentin houses approximately 3,700 inmates, including low-, medium-, and maximum-custody inmates as well as condemned inmates. The prison also has approximately 1,800 employees.