Published: Sat, November 11, 2017
Medicine | By Brett Sutton

Disneyland Shuts Down 2 Cooling Towers After Legionnaires' Disease Sickens Park Visitors

Disneyland Shuts Down 2 Cooling Towers After Legionnaires' Disease Sickens Park Visitors

Disneyland in Anaheim, California, was forced to shut down two cooling towers after cases of Legionnaires' disease was found in park visitors, KRON4 reported. Their ages ranged from 52 to 94.

"Since that time, HCA staff have visited Park properties and worked with Disney to identify potential sources of Legionella", said Jessica Good, spokeswoman for the Orange County Health Agency. Ten of the 12 were hospitalized and one person with additional health issues died. That person had not visited Disneyland. The towers will reopen after it's confirmed they are no longer contaminated.

The disease was detected in three more people who had not visited the theme park, but who either lived in or had travelled to Anaheim.

Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chief Medical Officer Pamela Hymel said Disney conducted more tests on all of their water towers.

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.

Legionellosis refers to illness caused by Legionella bacteria and usually results from exposure to contaminated water aerosols or from aspirating contaminated water. "These towers were treated with chemicals that destroy the bacteria and are now shut down". The county contacted Disney after it discovered several had gone to the park.

An outbreak of Legionnaire's disease in Orange County has been traced to two cooling towers at Disneyland.

Legionnaires' disease is a progressive pneumonia with a 2-10 day incubation period. Outbreaks often happen in hot tubs, cooling towers and large air-conditioning systems that emit water vapor into the air. The disease is not contagious from person to person. While many people have no symptoms, it can cause serious pneumonia and prove risky to those with lung or immune system problems.

The illness can be treated with antibiotics and hospital care, but about 10 percent of people who get it die from the infection.

There have been 55 reports of Legionella disease in Orange County residents through October of 2017; 53 were reported for the entire year of 2016; and 33 in 2015, according to Good.

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