Disneyland shuts down 2 cooling towers after guests contract Legionnaires' disease

11/13/2017 04:00 | 5

Disneyland shuts down 2 cooling towers after guests contract Legionnaires' disease

Symptoms of the disease typically show up within two to 10 days.

The county health agency alerted health care providers to keep an eye on anyone who visited Anaheim or Disneyland and contracted Legionnaires' disease before November 7.

Disneyland Park informed health officials this month that elevated levels of Legionella had been identified in two of its 18 towers, which were then treated and disinfected. Disney independently made a decision to take the towers out of operation the day before, Good said. People who are particularly susceptible to the disease are older adults, smokers, and people with weakened immune systems. But in large concentrations, often due to stagnant or improperly sanitized water systems, the bacteria can be transmitted through inhaling contaminated water vapor.

The sources of the infection, in this case, were two cooling towers of the world-famous amusement park that was contaminated with the bacteria.

The other three cases were Orange County residents who did not visit the park but lived or traveled in Anaheim. Those towers were chemically treated and shut down to eliminate further infection.

One of the three cases of the respiratory illness not linked to Disneyland was fatal in an individual who had additional health issues, said Jessica Good of the Orange County Health Care Agency. 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 water towers are situated in a backstage area near the New Orleans Square Train Station, and are more than 100 feet from areas accessible to guests, according to a Disneyland Resort spokeswoman.

Nine people contracted Legionnaires' disease after they visited Disneyland in Anaheim in September, officials said. The disease can also cause cardiac, renal and gastrointestinal involvement. Ten of the 11 ill were hospitalized, and one person died.

Legionnaires' disease is essentially an extremely unsafe form of pneumonia caused by inhaling the freshwater Legionella bacteria, which thrives in water systems like cooling towers, fountains, and hot tubs or pools that are not treated, per the Centres for Disease Control. On Nov. 1, more testing and disinfection was performed and the towers were brought back into service on Nov. 5.


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