LA County Probes Playboy Mansion Outbreak

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LOS ANGELES, Calif. —– Los Angeles health officials are investigating complaints of a respiratory illness that a media report said affected dozens of people following a fundraiser at the Playboy Mansion.

On Saturday the Department of Public Health issued a statement saying  that it was investigating a suspected respiratory infection outbreak that occurred during a conference on the west side of Los Angeles County.

The department sent an e-mail with a survey Friday to all who attended the Feb. 3 event, saying that they had received reports of problems including pneumonia, The Los Angeles Time newspaper said after talking to participants.

The newspaper said there were reports that dozens of people were sickened after the event at the L.A. mansion, but neither the newspaper nor county health officials cited a specific number of cases.

Some 700 people from 30 countries attended the Santa Monica conference on Internet businesses, called Domainfest global.

The county statement said investigators were looking into the cause, extent and potential sources of the illness, but did not believe it spread beyond the people who attended.

A Swedish attendee tested positive for the Legionella bacterium when he returned home and some of those who fell ill said they suspected a fog machine may have spread the illness. Legionnella is a milder form of Legionnaire’s disease.

The event’s organizer urged attendees not to make assumptions and to wait for the outcome of the investigation.

“Only medical authorities are qualified to identify this illness and investigate its ultimate source … it’s important not to speculate or make unfounded assumptions,” said Mason Cole, organizer of the conference

Representatives from Playboy had no comment.

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