Disneyland Shuts Down Two Cooling Towers After Visitors Sickened With Legionnaires' Disease

Henrietta Strickland
November 12, 2017

County health officials say 12 people contracted the lung disease, including one Disneyland employee, with one person who had not visited the park ultimately dying.

According to the Los Angeles Times, 12 cases of Legionnaires disease were discovered three weeks ago in people who had recently visited Disneyland.

Case ages range from 52-94.

Of the 12 cases of Legionnaire's disease that emerged in September, nine were among people who visited Disneyland in September. According to health officials, the person who died in connection to the Disneyland outbreak had additional health issues. "We conducted a review and learned that two cooling towers had elevated levels of Legionella bacteria", Dr. Pamela Hymel, chief medical officer for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, said in a statement issued Friday. The towers underwent more testing and disinfection on November 1 and were running again four days later.

The county agency issued an order November 8 requiring Disney to take the towers out of service until they are shown to be free from contamination.

Legionellosis refers to illness caused by Legionella bacteria and usually results from exposure to contaminated water aerosols or from aspirating contaminated water. Of that total, nine had visited the park in September, and the remainder lived or traveled in Anaheim.

After Disney took steps to get rid of the bacteria, the OCHCA "indicated there is no longer any known risk associated with our facilities", Hymel said.

Health agency officials say the disease is becoming more common, citing 55 reports of Legionella disease in Orange County through October 2017, compared with 53 for the entire year of 2016 and 33 in 2015.

The bacteria commonly is found in water systems and poses no threat to humans at low levels. Infected persons often have pneumonia and may need to be hospitalized.

The illness can not be spread by person to person contact. Those at higher risk include people over the age of 50 with weak immune systems or lung problems.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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