Richmond spa shuts down after 2 customers die from Legionnaires' Disease, health officials say

Contra Costa Health officials are investigating Legionella deaths possibly linked to Zen Day Spa in Richmond

ByAnser Hassan KGO logo
Sunday, August 6, 2023
Richmond spa shut down after Legionnaires' deaths: officials
Contra Costa Health officials are investigating Legionella deaths possibly linked to a Richmond Spa.

RICHMOND, Calif. (KGO) -- The Zen Day Spa in Richmond was shut down by Contra Costa County health officials following two deaths, both linked to Legionnaires' Disease.

Officials say the deaths were reported to the health department on Thursday and Friday after visits to the Zen Day Spa located at 12230 San Pablo Ave. in Richmond.

Officials say a third person was infected with Legionnaires' Disease after using the jacuzzi tub at the Zen Day Spa in June. That patient recovered.

VIDEO: Officials give update after 2 Legionnaires' disease deaths possibly linked to Bay Area spa

Officials give update after two Legionnaires' disease deaths possibly linked to a Bay Area spa.

"Unfortunately, two individuals have died. The third individual survived," says County Supervisor John Gioia.

Supervisor Gioia says the third man tested positive in June, but the other two died this week after visiting the spa just days before. County health officials won't give any details about the three patients. But they are trying to get the warning out to others who visited the spa.

"We are looking at secure things like credit card receipts and appointment books as a way to try and get in touch with folks who might have been here," says Kim McCarl, with Contra Costa Health.

Environmental health inspectors with Contra Costa County Health say the spa has never been issued a permit for a spa or pool.

"Whether they were legally operating as a business here, is a city permit. The city is checking into that. The county environmental health issues permits for restaurants. And in this case, the hot tub. And they did not have a permit for their spa," says Gioia. "Whether or not there was any criminal negligence, that is up to the district attorney. But this is also the kind of matter where we would also ask our district attorney, Diana Becton to look at."

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Legionella bacteria is found in water, like lakes and streams. But health concerns arise when these bacteria grow and spread in human-made water systems such as hot tubs or swimming pools.

"They way you get this bacteria is because it lives in water droplets especially in situations where there is pooling of water. Allows the bacteria to grow when that it is aerosolized, that is when an individual can inhale into their lungs," said Doctor Meera Sreenivasan, Deputy Health Officer with Contra Costa Health.

"So that is what happened in here. A closed room with water that is vaporizing. There is waterfall that comes out of the hot tub, so obviously there was a lot of steam. And so, that is why the risk here was so great," says McCarl.

Public officials emphasize that Legionnaires' Disease is treatable. The incubation period following exposure is typically two to 14 days. And that's why public officials are asking anyone who visited this spa over the past two weeks to get tested.

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"We are also working with the facility to collect samples so that we can test those to see if it has the same strain of bacteria that infected the individuals that were here. We should have preliminary results early next week," said Sreenivasan.

Legionnaires' Disease presents as a severe form of pneumonia that can result in hospitalization, yet is treatable with antibiotics, officials said. The incubation period following exposure is typically 2 to 14 days.

Legionella bacteria is commonly found in natural freshwater sources such as lakes and streams, CCH said. They added bacteria can grow and spread in human-made water systems such as hot tubs.

Individuals are at higher risk for Legionnaires' Disease including people over the age of 50, CCH said, as well as those with a past or current smoking history, individuals with chronic lung disease, or those with a weakened immune system.

Legionnaires' Disease does not spread from person to person, health officials said.

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Health officials confirmed they've tested a pool and hot tub at Aloft San Jose Cupertino after a couple staying at the hotel contracted Legionnaires'.

Officials advise anyone who may have recently visited Zen Day Spa to watch for symptoms of Legionnaires' Disease.

If anyone experiences symptoms such as shortness of breath, fever, chills and cough to seek immediate medical care.

Last year, a Legionnaires' outbreak was linked to a Napa County hotel's contaminated cooling tower where one person has died.

Also in the same year, a Southern California couple battled Legionnaires' disease after staying at a San Jose hotel. Officials said bacteria was found in the pool and hot tub.

The business owners could not be reached for comment. But county health officials say the owners are cooperating in the investigation.

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