Dr. Shapiro completed his undergraduate education at UC San Diego, earning a B.S. in Biochemistry and Cell Biology, and a B.A. in Political Science. He furthered his education at UCLA where he earned a Masters Degree in Public…
Could The Illness At the Playboy Mansion Be Legionnaires' Disease or Pontiac Fever?
Posted in Legionnaires' D... by Dr. Jeremy F. Shapiro on Feb 17, 2011
Before I went to medical school, I went to another school where I received a master’s degree in epidemiology. No, this is not where I learned about bugs (that’s entomology) nor is it the study of how to reproduce 3-dimensional animals (that’s taxidermy). Epidemiology includes, among other things, the detective work which helps explain how outbreaks occur, particularly when illnesses are involved. And although my time is primarily spent in a pediatric office these days, whenever I hear about another 'outbreak,' I am still as intrigued by it all as I was 15 years ago.

So when news broke out earlier this week that a mysterious illness possibly broke out after a party at the Playboy Mansion (remember, this is all allegedly at this point), it’s fair to say my usual interest in these things may have increased just a bit this time around. And as I’m sure many of you have come across this story over the last few days, I won’t bore you with too many of the story details other than the fact that it appears over 200 of the party guests have come down with symptoms that resemble a strong flu-like illness, with some developing pneumonia.

And while no diagnosis has been made (you can’t rush good detective work), I can assure you the Los Angeles County of Department of Health (an agency I worked for quite some time ago) is putting the pieces together as I write this. In fact, if (and again I repeat if) the Playboy Mansion is the source of the illness, a logical explanation for it all is a bacteria that causes legionellosis which can cause Legionnaire’s disease and the milder form of the illness, Pontiac fever. Both of these illnesses cause fever, cough, aches and in the more severe form, can lead to pneumonia. Each year, up to 18,000 Americans are hospitalized with Legionnaire’s disease and those persons with compromised immune systems are often at greater risk of developing complications.

But getting back to the epidemiology-side of things, the reason this illness stands out as a likely source is how this bacteria spreads. It enjoys warm-water sources: jacuzzis, humidifiers, air-conditioning units, fog sprays among others. And although no confirmation has yet to occur (few more days I am guessing), it’s safe to say the Playboy Mansion does have a few warm-water sources going year round.

So stay tuned as I know our local department of health will clarify matters soon and this smaller-sized outbreak can be a reminder of what detective work is all about.

Dr. Jeremy

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U kno what, I actually thought of that...but science is objective...If i want to comment based on my background and on my me I would have a totally different comment...but it doesnt matter who gets sick...we all do mistakes in this life...and everyone has got a God to determine if they are wrong or right!
By drwho546  Feb 19, 2011
I mean no offense to those who have this condition, but...

It's the Playboy Mansion. How many times have old man Hefner and his "hare-m" girls of ill repute jumped in the grotto to play peekaboo and chase cotton tail? Surprised nobody's mentioned the obvious, which is that this could be the worst outbreak of VD in all of human history. (And this is Beverly Hills, my God, so that's really saying something.)

Remember Jessica Rabbit? "I'm not bad, I'm just drawn that way." Now remember Cameron Poe? "Put the bunny back in the box." Sorry Hef, that goes for the dangling carrot too. I'm not familiar with Pontiac fever, but I think we're witnessing a new ailment known as Lamborghini's complaint. Unless Hef drives a VW, in which case this of course has to do with shifting one's stick into high gear in the back seat of a Rabbit.
By rventura425  Feb 18, 2011
Thank you for sharing...people like u and many other passionate scientists are my source of inspiration and motivation...hopefully I will be able to be anything like you and like those other great researches... so thank you again...I am totally going to read more about this topic!
By drwho546  Feb 18, 2011
good job.....very interesting. Can't wait for your next blog. I want to use it in the Microbiology class I am teaching.
By doctordick  Feb 18, 2011
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