Ford Motor on Wednesday said low levels of the bacteria that causes Legionnaires' disease had been detected at its plant in Dearborn, Michigan, but it stressed there's no health risk to employees. The auto manufacturer employs about 4,400 people at the Rouge complex, where the F-150 and F-150 Raptor pickup trucks are built. Of those workers, about 4,200 are hourly employees, according to Ford.
Media reports earlier in the day relayed that Ford told workers in a letter that low levels of legionella bacteria had been detected at the site, a scenario Ford confirmed.
The company regularly tests for legionella, and its water-quality management includes "steps to take if legionella bacteria are found," a Ford spokesperson emailed CBS MoneyWatch. "We immediately disinfected the equipment where the bacteria were found. The level of Legionella detected in our recent sampling is very low and does not present a health risk to our workforce. We are not aware of any employees that have contracted the bacteria," the statement said.
The bacteria can cause an infection known as Legionnaires' disease, or Pontiac fever, a severe form of pneumonia, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Symptoms include shortness of breath, headache, fever and muscle soreness. Most of those afflicted are treated with antibiotics and recover, although hospitalization is often required. Still, one in 10 people who contract the infection die from it.
The bacteria was also reportedly detected in the cooling tower on the campus of Wayne State University in Detroit.