— LOS ANGELES - Los Angeles County health officials are investigating dozens of reports of respiratory illnesses by people who attended a fund-raising event at Hugh Hefner's famed Playboy Mansion earlier this month, according to media reports.
The Feb. 3 event at the mansion was part of the annual DOMAINfest Global conference, attended by hundreds of Internet professionals from 30 countries. The weeklong conference was held at a hotel in Santa Monica but the wrap party took place at Hefner's 21,987-square-foot Gothic-Tudor-style mansion in the Holmby Hills area of Los Angeles.
Within 24 hours after leaving the mansion, scores of attendees reported coming down with symptoms that included fever, respiratory problems and violent headaches, KTLA-TV reported.
The county Department of Public Health on Friday sent an e-mail to all conference attendees alerting them that health officials had received a cluster of reports that people who attended the function and the conference had become ill, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Attendees complained of mysterious respiratory problems, including pneumonia. The Times reported that some suspect their symptoms are related to Legionellosis, or Pontiac fever — a milder form of Legionnaires’ disease, which is caused by bacteria living in warm air-conditioning systems.
“It knocked me off my feet for five days,” one attendee, David Castello, told The Times. “I’m over it now, but I’m still feeling fatigue, which is not a good thing.”
A representative for DOMAINfest told the New York Post it was working with the LA County Health Department to investigate. "We have no idea what this is or where it came from. The mansion being to blame is, at the moment, pure speculation," the Post quoted the official as saying.
A Playboy official told The Post there's no evidence that anyone caught anything at the mansion. The official said the Playboy Mansion is cooperating fully with the county health department with the investigation.