MARTINEZ — A Richmond day spa was the likely source where bacteria grew and caused a Legionnaires’ disease breakout that killed two people and sickened at least two more earlier this month, health officials said Monday.
The Contra Costa Health Services Department began investigating the Zen Day Spa at 12230 San Pablo Ave. on Aug. 4. The deaths were reported to Contra Costa County on Aug. 4 and 5.
Both people who died became ill days after visiting the spa.
Health officials in a statement released Monday afternoon said two other people who visited the business became ill with Legionnaire’s disease, which was confirmed by lab tests. They recovered, as did two others who reported becoming ill after visiting the spa and whom investigators suspect of having had the disease.
Health officials said they are not identifying the two dead or the other four people, in accordance with medical privacy laws. Officials said they would discuss their findings at a 2:30 p.m. news conference.
Testing on water and swab samples collected from the Richmond spa showed high levels of legionella bacteria, health officials said.
After the deaths, inspectors from the county’s environmental-health unit found no records that Zen Day Spa ever had a permit for a spa or pool. The business closed down voluntarily on Aug. 5, according to health officials.
Health officials said they’ve contacted more than 30 recent customers of the Zen Day Spa, as well as recent cases of Legionnaire’s disease reported through community healthcare providers.
The department also issued an abatement order declaring the business a public nuisance and ordering it to contract for professional cleaning of the affected space within 30 days. The hot tub must also be removed and disposed within those 30 days, and the the health services department said it would have to approve any reopening of the business after they reinspect it.
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Legionella bacteria exist in natural freshwater environments and can pose a health risk when they enter human settings like spas and pools, according to the health services department. People become infected when breathing in contaminated water droplets. Those most at risk include people over 50, past and present smokers, and those with chronic lung disease or weakened immune systems.
Legionnaire’s Disease does not spread person to person, health officials said.