Feb. 13, 2011 -- The chance to party it up at the Playboy Mansion is one of the most coveted invitations in the world, but this ticket to paradise may have come with a painful parting gift.
The Los Angeles Department of Public Health is investigating a suspected respiratory infection outbreak among attendees of the DOMAINfest Global Conference, which drew more than 700 people from around the world.
The main activities of the conference on Internet business, which ran Feb. 1-3, were held at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel in Santa Monica, Calif., but many participants also attended events at other locations, including the famed Playboy Mansion, which is in Holmby Hills.
The health department issued a statement saying it is investigating the cause and source of the illness, and said that nothing indicated the suspected outbreak extended beyond the attendees of the conference.
Eighty conference guests were reported sick, and at least four participants were reportedly diagnosed with a mild form of Legionnaires disease, an illness characterized by fever, headaches and aches all over the body.
"Outbreaks of legionnaire's disease are not that common," Dr. Stephen Jones of Northridge Hospital Medical Center told ABC Los Angeles station KABC-TV. "We'll see just sporadic outbreaks every once in a while, usually in groups of people who have been exposed to the bacteria, usually through some kind of contaminated air conditioning system."
David Castello, 54, said just a couple days after enjoying his last night at a Los Angeles-area tech industry conference by networking at the Playboy Mansion's lingerie lounge party he was bedridden.
Mystery Illness Hits Playboy Mansion Partygoers
"I rarely get ill. This thing beat me up so fast," he said.
Castello said party guests provided by Playboy may have been a factor.
"There were a lot of models brought into the Playboy party that were not at the rest of the conference," Castello said.
Some of the people at the mansion party told KABC-TV that a malfunctioning fog machine used there might have been the problem.
Another guest at the Playboy party said there were other possibilities for where the infections occurred.
"It could have been anywhere," said Howard Neu, a party participant. "There were a lot of outdoor activities. Every night was an outdoor activity."
A Playboy spokesperson told ABC News they're cooperating with the Department of Public Health investigation.
A conference organizer said that there was no reason to believe the mansion was ground zero for the outbreak, saying there were several parties at several different locations.
"There were events every night, and we are giving [the department of health investigators] a list of all the venues," a representative for Domainfest told the New York Post. "We have no idea what this is or where it came from. The mansion being to blame is, at the moment, pure speculation."