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August 07, 1976 - Image 2

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1976-08-07

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NVMIO Wfl%'r= Mi MIM= n~ll Y4Z^sruu~, Attyuss e+ 7 15

I rl-CM I% r Ik,71-4V^ I - T

'-uturuu0y, rNUgUST 1,IV 1-0

Cause of Pa. deaths still unknown

PHILADELPHIA tom - Doc-
tors said yesterday they are con-
centrating their search for the
cause of "legionnaire's disease"
on toxins or poisots. Hut they
conceded that the list of toxins
was almost endless and repeat-
ed that they may never know
what killed the 25 men and
women who have died in the
mysterious outbreak.
Doctors here and at the fed-
eral Center for Disease Control
in Atlanta said, mennwhile, that
the onthreak appears to be tap-
ering off.
State Health Secretary Leon-
ard Rachman said that although
the death toll was officially in-
creased by two yesterday, there
have heen no new cases of the
disease reported since Tuesday.
"I do helieve the guarded op-
timism we are showing is ap-
propriate," he said. The two
who were added to the death
toll died earlier in the week,
utt had been listed as having
uffered other diseases.
DR. DAVID Sencer, director
f the federal Center for Dis-

ease Control in Atlanta, agreed.
'The epidemic has peaked and
is on its way out," he said at a
news coference at the center.
The doctors moved closer to
knowing what the disease is not:
it is not any type of flu. It is
not caused by bacteria or fun-
gas. It probably is not caused
by virus.
Sencer and Bachman also em-
nhasized that no secondary in-
fections have been found, mean-
ing the disease is not contagious.
It has been limited to persons
connected with a state American
Legion convention here last
month.
AN ESTIMATED 10,000 at-
tended the convention, and doc-
tors now say 108 persons con-
tracted the disease. A few re-
main in critical condition.
Researchers at the CDC and
a state laboratory in Philadel-
phia have hunted nonstop for the
cause of the disease since it
was diagnosed on Monday.
Sencer said the CDC was now
concentrating on toxins, which
could appear in such common

items as plastics, paper, soap,
cigarettes, food, water or just
about anything the conven-
tioneers came in contact with.
ALTHOUGH Bachman said a
"slower-growing virus" is still
a possibility, he said, "Our em-
phasis is shifting definitely to-
ward toxins."
Don Berreth, information of-
ficer at the CDC, was asked
what possible toxins could be
responsible. "Thousands," he
said. "It makes no sense to
speculate."
A toxin is a poison. Some
chem chemicals are toxins by
their very nature. Arsenic and
cynanide are examples. Others
are toxic because of their vol-
ume. For example, salt is not
toxic to humans in small doses
but a cup of salt in a baby's
milk would be toxic,
TOXINS CAN occur naturally
or they can be manmade, rais-
ing again the question of wheth-
er sabotage is a possibility.
Bachman believes sabotage is

far fetched. "It stretches my
Imagination to believe that there
is any human capacIty to create
such a subtle and effective sabo-
tage," he said.
The FBI in Washington said it
had no evidence of terrorist ac-
tivity in connection with the ill-
ness or of any drug being
slipped to those who came down
with the disease.
CITY INVESTIGATORS check-
ed out the hotels where the
legionnaires stayed. The em-
phasis was on air-conditioning
sy s t e m s, renovation work,

water, sewage, food and any-
thing unusual.
Bachman has suggested that
if a toxin did cause the disease,
it was probably transmitted
through the air, and not food or
water.
Three teams of three city em-
ployes each fanned out to the
six hotels where the legionnaires
stayed. Were the carpets sham-
pooed, they wanted to know.
What type of cleanser was used.
Which air-conditioning ducts led
to the rooms where the victims
stayed. Are there any rust
stains in the pantry?

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