Disease Forces Closing of Ford Plant

greenspun.com : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Fair use for educational/research purposes only

Disease Forces Closing of Ford Plant

Thursday, March 15, 2001

By THOMAS J. SHEERAN Associated Press Writer CLEVELAND (AP) - A Ford Motor Co. plant sent home 2,500 workers and said it would likely remain closed through the weekend after three workers contracted Legionnaires' disease.

Workers were told Wednesday night to leave the plant in Brook Park, adjacent to Cleveland. Two Legionnaires' disease victims who worked at the plant were hospitalized, and the third was at home Thursday after previously being diagnosed, Ford spokesman Ed Miller said. The plant hasn't been confirmed as the source of the disease, but Cuyahoga County Health Commissioner Timothy Horgan said the source could be a plant cooling tower. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Ohio Department of Health were investigating Thursday.

County health workers were re-examining 10 cases of pneumonia in people who had worked in the plant to see if they had Legionnaires' disease. Horgan said one of the workers, who died Friday, had likely worked near the tower.

Horgan also said two subcontractors who have had pneumonia symptoms worked near the tower, and that others who became ill may have also worked in the area. Symptoms of the disease, first identified during an outbreak at the 1976 American Legion convention in Philadelphia, include high fever, cough and shortness of breath. It is caused by bacteria that can be inhaled when water is released into the air through air conditioners, steam or other means. About 100 health investigators and Ford employees moved through the sprawling plant Thursday taking samples from 120 water sources, including shower stalls, drinking fountains, cooling towers and heating and air-conditioning units, Miller said. Miller said the plant, which casts engine parts, likely would be closed through the weekend as officials inspect and disinfect the facility. He said he did not know when it would reopen. Willie Hubbard, president of United Auto Workers Local 1250, said workers are concerned but not panicking. He said the company and union have tried to get out as much information as possible about the disease.

``I just hope I don't get it,'' said worker Donald Nolan. ``I've been here for 46 years and I've been breathing that dust and smoke and I'm still breathing.''

Six people died of Legionnaires' disease last year in Ohio. The state has averaged 131 cases annually since 1994.


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), March 15, 2001

Moderation questions? read the FAQ