What Is Legionnaires' Disease? Disneyland Shuts Down Cooling Towers After Outbreak

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Disneyland

In response to the health issue, Disneyland voluntarily shut down two cooling towers (which are inaccessible to guests) that was found to have elevated levels of the bacteria associated with the disease.

Dr Pamela Hymel, chief medical officer for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, said in a statement: "On Oct. 27, we learned from the Orange County Health Care Agency of increased Legionnaires' disease cases in Anaheim". Nine of those people had visited Disneyland in September before they developed the illness.

The Legionella bacteria can cause respiratory illness and pneumonia, and especially in older people or those with existing health problems, can result in death.

Nine of the afflicted had visited the park, with the others living or traveling in Anaheim. Those towers were chemically treated and shut down to eliminate further infection.

"There is no known ongoing risk associated with this outbreak", the agency said in a statement.

The towers traced to the outbreak were located near the New Orleans Square Train Station, both towers more than 100 feet from public areas.

Most cases of the infection start when people inhale microscopic water droplets containing legionella bacteria. An employee working in the facility also got infected with the same disease.

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.

Ten of the twelve were hospitalized and one person "with additional health issues" died, according to health officials. It brought the towers back into service November 5, but two days later, they were taken out of service again, she said. The towers were taken out of service November 1, disinfected, went back in operation on November 5 but were shut down again Tuesday and will remain offline until tests confirm they are free from contamination, according to the park and the county health agency. Disney independently chose to take the towers out of operation the day before, Good said.

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