Disneyland Shuts Down Two Cooling Towers After Legionnaires' Disease Outbreak

Calvin Saunders
November 12, 2017

Eight guests and one worker at Disneyland have contracted Legionnaires' disease, prompting the Anaheim, Calif., theme park to close a pair of cooling towers.

After the Orange County Health Care Agency reported an increase of Legionnaires' cases in Anaheim, the park investigated and found two towers had "had elevated levels of Legionella bacteria".

The 12 cases range in age from 52 to 94, Good said.

Nine people contracted Legionnaires' disease after visiting Disneyland in September, a Disneyland spokesperson confirmed Saturday. One patient, who hadn't visited the park, has died. According to health officials, the person who died in connection to the Disneyland outbreak had additional health issues. The health agency said there is no ongoing risk to the public and no other cases have been reported, although they cautioned public health officials to be aware of the situation. People can get Legionnaires' disease when they breathe in small droplets of water in the air that contain the bacteria.

The remaining three were Orange County residents who did not visit the park but lived or traveled in Anaheim.

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Officials say Legionella, at low levels, poses no threat to humans and is commonly found in human-made water systems.

The two cooling towers are located in a backstage area behind the New Orleans Square train station area of the theme park.

Disneyland was informed of the cases October 27, chemically treating and voluntarily shutting down two cooling towers to rid them of the Legionella bacteria, said Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chief Medical Officer Pamela Hymel.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notified county authorities about three weeks ago of several cases of the disease among people who had traveled to Orange County in September. Disney took the towers out of service on November 1, performed more testing and disinfection, and brought them back into service on November 5. The incubation period is two to 10 days before symptoms appear, after exposure to the bacteria. Infected persons often have pneumonia and may need to be hospitalized. Those at higher risk include people over the age of 50 with weak immune systems or lung problems.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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