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Supervisor Urges Broader Probe Following Legionnaires’ Concerns at Richmond Spa

Richmond Spa
Photo of Zen Day Spa in Richmond (GOOGLE STREET VIEW)

A supervisor from Contra Costa County is pushing for a thorough examination of all spas operating without permits in the region. This move follows as local health officials await water test results from a Richmond spa, linked to the deaths of two individuals from Legionnaires’ disease. Both deceased had frequented the hot tub at Zen Day Spa in Richmond, leading to its immediate closure by county health authorities.

Another individual was infected but has fortunately recovered.

“The problem here at this facility was they did not have a county health permit,” said Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia.

The spa owners didn’t have a health permit to use a jacuzzi.

“The reason a health permit is required is to make sure that these spas are operating properly and safely,” Gioia said.

Since there was no permit, Zen Day Spa was never inspected. Spas with proper permits have regular inspections.

Now, Gioia says the county wants to make sure there are no more massage parlors operating unpermitted jacuzzis, steam rooms, or pools.

“We’re going to devise a strategy to look at how to investigate these types of massage parlors and spas that are out there that may not have a county health permit. Because there’s no way to know unless you go into the facility and inspect it,” he said.

Legionnaires’ disease isn’t commonly spread from person to person, with the CDC being aware of just one such case. The risk arises when the legionella bacteria becomes airborne in water systems, such as jacuzzi jets or steam, making it possible for individuals to inhale it and get infected.

During a recent press conference outside the spa, a woman informed NBC Bay Area that her husband was among the victims. It’s been revealed that this same woman had purchased a Groupon for hot tubs and massage sessions at Zen Day Spa. The county is keen on connecting with others who availed similar Groupon deals, or anyone who accessed the spa’s hot tub around July 22-23.

“We want people to come in, who may have been at this facility in the last 14 days. Because they are the ones that are most at risk,” Gioia said.

That is especially true for anyone who has symptoms.

“Such as fevers, chills, cough, trouble breathing,” said CCH Deputy Health Officer Dr. Maree Sreenivasan.

Those people may already be infected by the legionella bacteria and prompt treatment can be the difference between life and death.

Contra Costa County health officials also took water samples from the spa to test for the presence of legionella. They expect preliminary results in the next couple of days.

The spa’s owner is cooperating with the investigation.

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