By Jory Lange and Candess Zona-Mendola

In a follow-up on the report on the Legionnaires’ disease outbreak linked to the East Texas State Fair, the first person has died in the East Texas State Fair Legionnaires Outbreak.  Last Friday, Tyler community leader Ruben Gutierrez died. Mr. Gutierrez spent the last week in September running the Democratic Party’s booth at the East Texas State Fair.  His family believes that he contracted Legionnaires’ disease at the East Texas State Fair.

Legionella bacteria
Image/CDC

A well-regarded community leader, volunteer, and Smith County Democratic Party precinct chair, Mr. Gutierrez had been in and out of the hospital for the last six weeks.  Mr. Gutierrez had been fighting for his life. First he was fighting Legionnaires’ disease. Then he was fighting complications from the Legionnaires’ disease, including a bacterial infection called C. diff.  The complications of Legionnaires’ disease ultimately took his life.

His family believes Ruben Gutierrez contracted Legionnaire’s disease while volunteering at the East Texas State Fair in September.  Mr. Gutierrez set up and ran the Democratic Party’s booth in the Harvey Convention Center throughout the East Texas State Fair.

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Legionnaires’ Disease and C. Diff

Legionnaires’ disease may have made Ruben Gutierrez more susceptible to infections from other bacteria, such as Clostridium difficile (“C. diff”).  C. diff is commonly found in the human gut. When antibiotics wipe out good gut bacteria, harmful bacteria like C. diff can grow to dangerous levels.  When C. diff grows, it releases toxins that harm the bowel.