JBSA says bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease found in barracks at Fort Sam Houston

100 residents, 50 staff will be located

Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston. (File) (KSAT)

SAN ANTONIO – Bacteria that causes Legionnaire’s disease was found at a barrack at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, causing the relocation of about 100 residents and 50 staff.

In a news release sent on Friday, JBSA said the bacteria was discovered in the plumbing system of the Liberty Barracks during routine water testing.

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Residents will be moved to other barracks and dorms within JBSA, and the behavioral health clinic within the barracks will be relocated.

Patients who receive services from the clinic will be notified.

JBSA added that residents are undergoing treatment at Brooke Army Medical Center, though there are no known cases of Legionnaire’s disease or other legionella-based infections.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that people can get sick if they breathe in small droplets of water or swallow contaminated water.

Nearly a year ago, residents and staff had to be relocated due to the same issue.

JBSA said at that time, the plumbing system was cleaned in a super-chlorination process and regularly tested. The tests were negative until last week, JBSA said.

The plumbing system will receive the same treatment this time and will be reassessed after 72 hours.

“As of the last few months, we have been fortunate to have significantly fewer service members needing the care that Liberty Barracks was designed to support,” Brig. Gen. Russell Driggers, the Joint Base San Antonio and 502d Air Base Wing Commander, san in the release. “A significant portion of the facility, therefore, has been unoccupied. Water in the plumbing for these unoccupied rooms can sit stagnant, providing a breeding ground for bacteria like legionella.”

The facility is 216,000 square feet and can house up to 360 service members. JBSA said they are investigating long-term solutions.

About the Author

Rebecca Salinas is an award-winning digital journalist who joined KSAT in 2019. She reports on a variety of topics for KSAT 12 News.

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