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Social Media Helped Track Playboy Mansion Illness Outbreak

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When taking photos at the Playboy Mansion, be sure to tag yourself on Facebook so the health department will know to contact you in case of an outbreak. Turns out social media may be good for public health.

According to Dr. Caitlin Reed during a a recent CDC presentation, social media outlets helped investigators, "identify the outbreak quickly; enabled them to receive responses quickly from attendees, who had traveled from 30 countries; and allowed for the issuing of speedy recommendations for patients to receive lab testing," reports the L.A. Times.

Twitter, Facebook and an online poll were used by investigators to track down the source of the mystery illness after 123 people fell ill following an event at the Playboy mansion event in February.

A bacterium, Legionella pneumophila, is a suspect in the illnesses among attendees at a DomainFest fundraiser Feb. 3 at the mansion, in the Holmby Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles. The Legionella bacterium can cause serious illness, including Legionnaires disease and pneumonia. H1N1 flu is also a suspect in the outbreak.