A third Ford employee at a casting plant outside Cleveland, Ohio, has contracted Legionnaire's disease and Ford has now decided to close the plant, at least until Monday.

Earlier reports said that two workers had contracted the disease but tests at the plant had not shown up any source and it would remain open.

The two workers had been too ill to be interviewed to see if they shared any common environment outside the plant.

"Concern for our employees' welfare is of paramount importance. We are cooperating fully with public health authorities in their efforts to identify the source of the bacterium Legionella, whether inside the plant or at another location," Ford said in a statement.

"However, Cuyahoga County health authorities tonight confirmed that a third casting plant employee had contracted the disease and is recuperating. Based on that, [we] decided to shut down Cleveland Casting Plant as a measure of extreme precaution at least through the weekend.

"As soon as public health authorities have completed the process of taking samples at the facility, we will begin promptly the process of disinfecting the plant whether or not contamination is found in the plant."

Legionnaire's disease is caused by a bacteria often inhaled in contaminated vapour from air conditioners, steam or other sources.

It is easily destroyed with bleach or even hot water once the source is discovered.

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