TYLER, Texas (KETK) – One person has been confirmed dead after contracting Legionnaire’s disease according to a statement released by the CEO of NET Health.
The statement reads, “NET Health has learned of the death of one of the confirmed Legionnaires Disease cases. We are sorry to hear of the loss and send our heartfelt condolences. NET Health is devoted to the ongoing investigations of the situation.”
Family and friends on Facebook have identified the deceased as Ruben Gutierrez, a longtime Tyler community leader, an advocate for immigrant rights, and a precinct chair for the Smith County Democratic Party.
Guiterrez had a family trip planned after the East Texas State Fair when he suddenly fell ill and went to the hospital. He became better until a few days ago when he suddenly fell ill again and went in for emergency surgery where they removed his colon. Last night, Guiterrez passed away after 9:00 p.m.
“We are devastated by the passing of Ruben Gutierrez,” the Smith County Democratic Party said in a Facebook post. He was loved and respected by everyone whose life he touched. We offer our sincere condolences to his wife, Susan, and family. His spirit, wisdom and friendship will truly be missed.”
Seven people are confirmed to have contracted Legionnaire’s disease in East Texas, according to NET Health. The only thing they have in common is they visited the East Texas State Fair.
Gutierrez had manned the Democrats’ booth at the fair, distributing literature and registering voters.
Five other people are showing symptoms of Legionnaire’s but officials have not yet confirmed that’s what they have.
Terrence Ates, Director of Community Outreach for NET Health, told KETK that NET Health is still investigating the outbreak as is the Texas Department of State Health Services.
“We are having to be patient as this investigation unfolds, and we appreciate the community’s patience in this matter,” he said.
East Texas State Fair officials said, they “Are cooperating fully with the investigation every step of the way,” Ates said. “They want to understand what happened and how it happened as much as we do.”
This is the first death from the group of people who have contracted the disease.
“We send our condolences to the victim’s family,” Ates said.