New Hong Kong Government Office Contaminated

Published January 3, 2012 8:18AM (EST)

HONG KONG (AP) — Bacteria that cause Legionnaire's disease have been found throughout Hong Kong's brand new, $670-million government headquarters.

The checks were prompted after the education secretary came down with the potentially fatal illness last month. Health authorities said Monday that water samples taken from his new office's bathroom found traces of legionella bacteria as high as 14 times above acceptable levels.

Authorities say nine out of more than 31 water samples were contaminated, and that they are now disinfecting the building.

Early signs of the disease can include high fever, chills and a cough.

The bacteria thrive in warm water. Last year, it was found in the Playboy Mansion grotto in Los Angeles after scores of people who attended a fundraiser were sickened.

By Salon Staff

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