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Legionnaires' disease claims 39-year-old man in Michigan

A 39-year-old man died after being exposed to Legionnaires' disease, and a man from a nearby town has contracted the illness, hospital officials said.

The officials say they don't know if the two cases are related, although both men were from Oakland County in the Detroit suburbs.Tests last week confirmed the disease in a 55-year-old man from Walled Lake, and the results were forwarded to the Oakland County Health Department, said Susan Happel, a spokeswoman at Huron Valley-Sinai Hospital.

She said the man was in stable condition.

A second man, Mike Bishop, 39, of Wixom, had been exposed to Legionnaires' disease and died Monday night at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Pontiac, said Sonja Berry, a hospital spokeswoman. Health officials were awaiting autopsy results to see if his death was caused by the Legionella bacteria.

Legionnaires' disease, like pneumonia, is caused by a bacteria that attacks the respiratory system. The disease, which is not contagious from person to person, received its name in 1976 after several American Legion members contracted the bacteria through a Philadelphia hotel's cooler tower and died.