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Dearborn — Ford Motor Company officials said Wednesday a very low level of legionella bacteria was found at the automaker's Rouge complex in Dearborn and it doesn't present a health risk to workers.

Ford's Rouge complex builds the F-150 and the Raptor.

Earlier Wednesday, media reports said the car company sent letters to employees informing them about the discovery of the bacteria, which can cause a lung infection known as Legionnaires' disease.

Spokeswoman Kelli Felker confirmed the bacteria had been found at the plant and provided the following statement from the company:

"We take the safety of our workforce very seriously. We regularly test for legionella out of an abundance of caution and have a comprehensive, industry-leading, water-quality management process that includes steps to take if legionella bacteria are found. The Ford protocol is more stringent than federal guidelines. Following that process, in each of those cases, 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."

Symptoms of Legionnaires' disease include shortness of breath, muscle aches, headache, and fever. They usually manifest 2-10 days after exposure. It first detected in 1976 after an outbreak among people at an American Legion Convention in Philadelphia, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The disease is treated with antibiotics and most healthy people usually get better, but they often need to be hospitalized. Furthermore, one in 10 people who get the disease dies from the infection.

cramirez@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @CharlesERamirez

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