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IRS CENTER BEING TESTED AFTER ILLNESSES

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Federal safety and health officials were back at the Ogden Internal Revenue Service Center this weekend to test for signs of Legionnaires' disease.

IRS spokesman Dennis Howland said workers from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Centers for Disease Control were conducting tests, which included taking water samples.An IRS employee was diagnosed with Legionnaires' disease last month. She was hospitalized Sept. 11-26 at St. Benedict's Hospital and has not returned to work.

Howland said a search for employees who had been sick recently for three or more days with pneumonia-like symptoms turned up 10 people who were tested for Legionnaires' disease.

"Of that, five were found to be suspect," he said. "Those five had seen their own physicians, were not hospitalized, and they are well and back to work. One didn't even work in the main building.

"There are still no indications that the main building was a source of the problem," Howland said.

A spokesman said Friday that OSHA may have some tentative findings on its investigation of the IRS building in about a week.

When the initial case was first diagnosed, the National Treasury Employees Union had asked the IRS to liberally grant leave to employees who might fear contracting the disease at work.

Dr. Mark Nichols, director of the Weber-Morgan Health Department, said epidemiologists still are looking into the possibility the IRS employee diagnosed with the disease contracted it during flooding last month in the North Ogden area.

No additional cases have been reported in Weber County, he said Friday.

Legionella bacteria is acquired by inhaling it into the lungs. It is commonly found in water supplies and containers in evaporative air conditioning systems.