Playboy Mansion Illness: Was Fog Machine to Blame?

playboy mansion, 4x3
Dozens of people reportedly fell ill after attending an event at the Playboy Mansion, shown here in 2007. (GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)

(CBS/AP) Could it have been the fog machine?

That's what some are asking after dozens of people who attended a bash at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles came down with a mysterious respiratory illness.

The Los Angeles Department of Public Health issued a statement Saturday saying only that it was investigating an outbreak of illness among attendees of a conference on the west side of Los Angeles County. The Los Angeles Times 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.

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 newspaper said after talking to participants.

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.

"Public Health has no information suggesting that this suspected outbreak extends beyond those individuals associated with this conference," the statement said.

Four men who attended the event were diagnosed with Legionellosis, a mild form of the bacterial illness known as Legionnaires disease, the Daily Mail reported. Also known as Pontiac Fever, Legionellosis generally clears up without treatment after two to five days, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Symptoms include fever, headaches, and muscle aches.

Did a fog machine spread the illness? That's what the Daily Mail reported. But not everyone agreed.

"There is no truth in the rumor that anyone caught anything at the Playboy Mansion, a Playboy representative told the New York Post. "Nor is there any evidence. None of the Playboy staff became ill, the deejay was in the middle of the fog and she didn't get ill."

Whatever its cause, the illness wasn't much fun.

"It knocked me off my feet for five days," said one attendee, David Castello, 54, whose symptoms included a fever, cough, headaches and back spasms. "I'm over it now, but I'm still feeling fatigue, which is not a good thing."

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