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San Quentin Hit with Legionnaires’ Disease

On Saturday, San Quentin State Prison was closed to visitors and its water supplies were limited to cooking and inmate toilets after an inmate was diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease.

Roughly 45 other inmates were under observation; three other inmates showed signs of possible pneumonia, according to Dana Simas, a spokeswoman with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. The 3,700 inmates had to shower using portable showers on Saturday while thousands of gallons of water were transported to the prison, according to CBS Sacramento..

Prison officials insisted the public was in no danger; the prison’s employees, who number over 1200, do not appear to have contracted the disease.

Legionnaires’ disease, a harsh of bacterial pneumonia, derives from bacteria that grow best in warm water, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). When people breathe a mist or vapor containing the bacteria, they can contract the disease, but it cannot be transmitted through direct contact from person to person. The CDC states that between 5% and 30% of people afflicted with the disease die. The Mayo Clinic asserts that those most at risk include smokers, the elderly and victims with weakened immune systems.

On Friday, two people died of Legionnaires’ Disease at the Illinois Veterans’ Home in Quincy, Illinois; 23 other residents of the home were found to have contracted the illness, according to the New York Times.

A July 10 outbreak of Legionnaires’ Disease killed 12 people in the South Bronx after the bacteria came from a cooling tower at a Bronx housing complex hotel; Mayor Bill De Blasio reported that of the 113 people afflicted with the disease, 76 people had been hospitalized and released, according to USA Today.

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