Tests at Ford Plant Find Bacteria

Wednesday, March 28th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

CLEVELAND (AP) _ Tests at a Ford Motor Co. plant closed after four workers contracted Legionnaires' disease found small amounts of the bacteria that causes the illness, a company official said Tuesday.

Two of the four workers died of the disease, but there was no evidence any of them contracted it at work, Cuyahoga County Health Commissioner Timothy Horgan said.

Ford closed the 2,500-employee engine casting plant on March 14 for a five-day cleanup of several water sources. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still are testing samples from the plant.

Dr. Beverly Blaney, a Ford physician, said testing by the company showed that 18 of 153 water samples taken at the Cleveland Casting Plant tested positive for some type of Legionella bacteria. Blaney said a typical sampling would be expected to reveal bacteria in 5 percent to 15 percent of samples.

Two samples showed growth of Legionella pneumophila 1, the bacteria that most often causes Legionnaires' disease. Company records show that one of the two samples came from a stagnant water pool and the other was from a floor furnace tank.

Legionnaires' disease is a form of pneumonia that is contracted through mist from contaminated water. It was first identified at a 1976 American Legion convention in Philadelphia. Symptoms include high fever, cough and shortness of breath.

Willie Hubbard, president of United Auto Workers Local 1250, said workers are on the job despite some worries about their safety. ``There are still some people who are a little bit concerned,'' he said.