Health officials have been able to trace the cause of the outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease after a two-month investigation. They found the bug in the hot tub of the Playboy mansion.
More than 120 people had come down with symptoms of fever and vomiting after attending a fund-raising party at the fabled Playboy mansion in Los Angeles in February. The guests were at the mansion to mark the end of the three-day DomainFest Global Conference on internet business from 1st to 3rd of February. About 700 people from 30 countries attended the conference with 69 falling ill on the same day. Officials contacted 439 people and found that up to 200 of them had a fever.
The hot tub or whirlpool spa is frequently used by the models who live with Playboy founder Hugh Hefner and his celebrity guests. Playboy chiefs had denied the mansion in Los Angeles was the source of the illness and insisted victims had picked up the bug elsewhere. Officials investigated the cases to see if legionellosis was at fault; the more severe version of that illness is known as Legionnaires' disease, while a milder version is called Pontiac fever. The investigation involved an unusual tactic: the use of social media - blogs, Twitter and Facebook and they sent an online survey to all 715 conference attendees, who had traveled from 30 countries, to determine the extent of the outbreak. Seventy-nine people said through social media that they were ill. Many tested positive for legionellosis but three attendees did test positive for the H1N1 flu.
Los Angeles County Department of Public Health released a statement on the identification of the bacteria said in a statement, “Though Legionella bacteria was identified in a water sample taken from the Playboy Mansion, this bacteria has not been determined as the source of the respiratory outbreak. Other potential causes under investigation include influenza, as three individuals who attended the conference tested later positive for the flu. However, the cause of the outbreak has not been conclusively determined at this time. Investigations such as this one can take several months.” The results were made public Friday in a presentation by L.A. County health officials at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's annual Epidemic Intelligence Service conference in Atlanta.