Issue: 6/01

Ford Motor Co. closed its Cleveland Casting Plant on March 14 due to a Legionnaires' Disease outbreak that has resulted in four confirmed cases and two deaths.

Officials originally reported that a cooling tower at the plant may be have been the source of the legionella bacteria. Two sub-contractors that had been working on the cooling tower became ill with what was believed to be pneumonia, and an employee who worked near the tower and was originally believed to have died from pneumonia was later confirmed to have Legionnaires' Disease.

Ford decided to voluntarily close the plant after the third case of the disease. The deceased worker who was rediagnosed with the disease became the fourth case and first fatality. A second worker died on March 16. Up to 10 reported cases of pneumonia were also being given a second look.

Legionnaires' Disease, a type of pneumonia, is spread by the inhalation of legionella bacteria that has been transmitted by water mists generated by such sources as cooling towers, shower heads, whirlpool spas, etc.

After disinfecting the plant, Ford allowed its employees to return to work on March 19.