Plant worker diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease

Melissa Burden
The Detroit News

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV says an employee at its Jefferson North Assembly Plant in Detroit has been diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease.

The automaker in a statement Friday said it hasn’t been determined where the employee may have come in contact with bacteria that cause the disease.

“Out of an abundance of caution for the safety and welfare of our employees, we have mobilized a team to begin testing water sources, and are following appropriate and established protocols at the plant,” the company said in a statement. “We are taking these extraordinary, proactive measures as a precaution.”

FCA spokeswoman Jodi Tinson said the company learned of the employee’s diagnosis on Wednesday and testing is being concentrated in the area around where the employee worked in the facility. She declined to comment in which part of the factory the employee worked.

The company says it’s in contact with appropriate agencies, which would include health officials, and plans to cooperate as needed with them.

Legionnaires’ disease is a pneumonia caused by bacteria that thrive in warm water and infect the lungs. Cooling systems can be a carrier. The disease has received recent attention in the Flint area, where there’s been an outbreak amid the city’s crisis with lead-tainted water.

The 3 million-square foot plant was built in 1991. Jefferson North employs more than 5,000 people, including more than 4,700 hourly UAW workers who produce the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Grand Cherokee SRT and Dodge Durango SUVs.

Associated Press and staff writer Michael Wayland contributed