Disneyland shuts down cooling towers after reported disease outbreak

Disneyland shuts down cooling towers after reported disease outbreak

About a dozen people in the Anaheim, CA area, or visitors to the area in September were diagnosed with Legionnaires' disease, according to Orange County health officials. "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. The Anaheim outbreak includes patients between ages 52 to 94. It is not confirmed that all eight cases came from the Disneyland park.

One person, who had not visited Disneyland, has died of the disease, the OC Register reported, citing officials. The county contacted Disney after it discovered several had gone to the park.

Disneyland was informed of the Anaheim cases on October 27 and after testing found that two cooling towers had elevated levels of Legionella bacteria. "These towers were treated with chemicals that destroy the bacteria and are now shut down". The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notified county officials of the outbreak among people who had traveled to Orange County.

According to a LA Times report, Disney reported on November 3 that routine testing had detected elevated levels of Legionella in two cooling towers a month earlier, and the towers had been disinfected. The towers are not in public areas.

Disney took the towers out of service again on Tuesday because the health agency required they remain down until test results verify they are free of Legionella contamination. That person did not visit Disneyland, she said.

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When Legionella bacterial levels are high, it can be transmitted through inhalation of contaminated water vapor. It can become a health concern when it grows and spreads in human-made water systems like showers and faucets, cooling towers, decorative fountains and water features and so on.

The illness can not be spread by person to person contact.

Of the 12, 10 have been hospitalized and one has died.

People ages 50 or older, or those with weakened immune systems, are most at risk for the illness.