SAN QUENTIN , Calif., Aug. 29 (UPI) — San Quentin State Prison officials took the dramatic step of limiting water use after an inmate was diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease.
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation announced Friday bottled water will be shipped in and inmate intake has stopped as health investigators determine the source of the infectious bacteria that causes the disease.
Officials said the inmate was diagnosed on Aug. 26 and taken to a local hospital where he is in stable condition. Two other inmates were also hospitalized with similar symptoms but have not been diagnosed with the disease. Another 30 inmates are under observation. None are gravely ill.
Legionnaires’ disease begins with symptoms similar to pneumonia. The bacteria is found in warm fresh water that is somewhat stagnant and is spread through the inhalation of water mist containing the bacteria, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. San Quentin receives its water supply from the Marin County Municipal Water District and stores it in a three million gallon tank on-site.
Officials initially turned off all the water supply, brought in portable toilets and banned showers. Inmates said the toilet bowls were backed up.
“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.