Disneyland shuts down cooling towers after reported disease outbreak

Legionnaires Disease Found Among Disneyland Visitors

Disneyland shut down two cooling towers in October after people who visited the Southern California theme park were diagnosed with Legionnaires' disease. Those who were afflicted ranged in age from 52 to 94.

Twelve cases of Legionnaires' disease are being investigated by OC health experts, among those are 9 patients who visited the park in September, according to the OC Register.

Two are Anaheim residents, five were visitors who stayed in Anaheim between 9/12 and 9/27, and one works in Anaheim but lives in another county.

Of the 12 cases of Legionnaire's disease that emerged in September, nine were among people who visited Disneyland in September. 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.

The infection is treatable, though about one in 10 people who contract Legionnaires' - usually those over 50 with weakened immune systems or chronic lung disease - die from it.

When Legionella bacterial levels are high, it can be transmitted through inhalation of contaminated water vapor.

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On November 3, Disney reported that routine testing had detected elevated levels of Legionella in two cooling towers a month earlier, and they were disinfected, according to the health agency.

Pamela Hymel, Chief Medical Officer for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, said in an email Saturday that Disney was informed by the county Health Care Agency of the outbreak on October 27.

The towers are in a backstage area near the New Orleans Square Train Station, each more than 100 feet from areas accessible to guests, a Disneyland Resort spokeswoman said. It is spread by mist from contaminated water.

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.

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.

It takes 2 to 10 days for symptoms of Legionnaires' disease to appear. That outbreak, which sickened 182 and resulted in 29 deaths, was traced to the convention hotel's air conditioning system. The disease is not contagious from person to person.

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