Skip to: [ search ] [ menus ] [ content ] Select style [ Aqua ] [ Citrus ] [ Fire ] [ Orange ] [ show/hide more content ]

“Legionnaires’ bacillus” in LA Playboy Mansion grotto

The bacteria that cause Legionnaires’ disease, Legionella pneumophila, were found in a whirlpool spa in the “grotto,” an artificial cave at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles and are suspected in the illnesses of some attendees at a conference party on February 3, 2011. The location of that spa was disclosed in a presentation by Dr. Caitlin Reed at a conference at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, GA last week. A copy of the presentation is here. Reed is a member of CDC’s Epidemic Intelligence Service and was on loan to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

You knew that this story would grab the attention of a former bacteriologist like myself! :-)

In an novel application of “social media,” Twitter, Facebook, and an online poll were used in the public health investigation of widespread illnesses among attendees at a DOMAINfest conference that occurred on February 1-3 in Santa Monica. In her presentation, Dr. Reed documented that, among all who attended the DomainFest conference, the highest risk of illness occurred in people who attended the Playboy Mansion party on February 3, rather than parties at hotels. After reports of pneumonia and a suspected water source on Facebook, health investigators used an online poll that was sent to all 715 conference attendees to “get a handle on” the disease outbreak. In all, the health investigators received more than 400 responses from attendees at the conference on Internet domains.

The online survey found that 123 people had become sick with fever and at least one other symptom, such as headache, cough, aches, or shortness of breath. The fact that 69 people got sick on the same day, February 5, indicated a probable single source of the outbreak.

Social media helped investigators identify the outbreak quickly, to contact conference attendees from 30 countries, and to issue speedy recommendations for patients to receive lab testing!

Legionnaires’ Disease was named from its discovery in attendees at a 1976 American Legion convention in Philadelphia, PA, who developed pneumonia. According to CDC, 8,000 to 18,000 people in the U.S. are hospitalized yearly with the disease. Healthy people usually recover from the disease, which can be treated with antibiotics. However, CDC says that death can occur in 5% to 30% of cases.

A milder form of illness caused by Legionella is Pontiac fever, which does NOT involve pneumonia, but can include fever, chills, cough, and headaches.

-Bill at

Cheshire Cat Photo™ – “Your Guide to California’s Wonderland™”

You can view higher-resolution photos (*generally* 7-30 megabytes, compressed) at the Cheshire Cat Photo™ Pro Gallery on Shutterfly™, where you can also order prints and gifts decorated with the photos of your choice from the gallery. The Cheshire Cat Photo Store on Zazzle contains a wide variety of apparel and gifts decorated with our images of California. Framed prints and prints on canvas can be ordered from our galleries on redbubble®. All locations are accessible from here. Be a “Facebook Fan” of Cheshire Cat Photo here! If you don’t see what you want or would be on our email list for updates, send us an email at

No Comments to ““Legionnaires’ bacillus” in LA Playboy Mansion grotto”

  (RSS feed for these comments)

You must be logged in to post a comment.

InspectorWordpress has prevented 52153 attacks.
Get Adobe Flash player