County of Marin - News Releases - Legionnaires' Disease

For Immediate Release
August 28, 2015

County Health Assists San Quentin with Emergency

One confirmed case of Legionnaires’ disease prompts precautionary measures

San Rafael, CA – Medical professionals from the County of Marin’s Department of Health and Human Services are collaborating with officials at nearby San Quentin State Prison with a confirmed case of Legionnaires’ disease.

Drs. Matt Willis and Bob Benjamin, the County’s Public Health Officer and Deputy Public Health Officer, respectively, have been in steady communications since Thursday afternoon with officials at the prison, located on the shore of San Francisco Bay just east of Larkspur. The doctors are part of a response effort comprised of San Quentin personnel, state and federal corrections officials, and state and local environmental health sources.

“Their emergency response planning at the prison seems to have paid off very well,” Benjamin said. “They mobilized very quickly.”

Friday morning, prison officials were waiting for test results to return on more than a dozen other inmates who exhibited symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease, a severe form of pneumonia caused by bacteria spread through water, mist and steam. The disease is not spread from person to person. The general community outside the prison is not at risk.

San Quentin has taken the following precautions:

  • All water to the housing units are shut off for an indefinite period of time until it is determined it is OK to be turned on.
  • Water has been delivered to the institution by secondary sources, i.e. bottled water, water tanks for consumption.
  • Portable toilets have been delivered to the institution.
San Quentin is the lead agency for media contacts. Public Information Officer Lt. Samuel Robinson can be reached at 415-455-5008 or To reach the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, contact Public Information Officer Dana Simas at 916-445-4950 or

. Watch the CDCR website for fresh updates.


Update from August 31: There are six confirmed cases of Legionnnaires' disease and 73 people experiencing symptoms of the severe form of pneumonia. Marin County Public Health continues to monitor the situation as inmates gradually have access to more services. 

Residents of nearby San Quentin Village have been informed that their water supply is separate from the prison's supply and that the disease is not spread from person to person.


Dr. Matthew Willis
Public Health Officer
Health and Human Services

3240 Kerner Blvd.
San Rafael, CA 94901
(415) 473-4163
Email: Dr. Matthew Willis
Marin HHS website