Legionnaires' Scare at South Bay Crime Lab - NBC Bay Area

Legionnaires' Scare at South Bay Crime Lab



    A bacteria that causes the potentially deadly leionnaire disesas has been found in a Santa Clara County's crime lab. Marianne Favro reports. (Published Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013)

    Workers at the Santa Clara County crime lab are being warned to watch out for symptoms of Legionnaires' disease.

    So far no one has gotten sick, but the potential is there, according to health officials, who said at least one water pipe was infected with bacteria that can cause the disease earlier this month.

    "Legionella is the name of the bacteria. It can cause one of three things: no symptoms at all, pneumonia like symptoms and Pontiac's disease, which can cause flu-like symptoms," said Dr. Sara Cody, deputy health officer for Santa Clara County.

    Cody said Legionnaires' can be deadly for the elderly and people with immune-compromised systems.

    Since the finding, the crime lab's staff has been told not to drink the water. They are also advised to only wash their hands or take showers using water that has been brought in.

    The district attorney who oversees the lab says the building has two water supplies.

    David Agnel said the water used in the labs is already distilled and not impacted, so no pending cases or work with evidence will be affected.

    In about a week, the county plans to perform a major flush of the entire building.

    Health officials don't know for sure the source of the Legionella bacteria, but said it may have built up in a pipe attached to one of the areas used to flush out eyes or for decontamination in case of an emergency.

    The pipes for those systems were supposed to be flushed monthly, but that may not have been enough.

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