Legionnaires' Disease Found Among Disneyland Visitors

Legionnaires Disease Found Among Disneyland Visitors

Disneyland California has shut down two water cooling towers after tests showed they gave off mist containing a high level of bacteria, thought to be Legionnaires disease.

The disease is treatable, but roughly one in 10 people who contract the disease die from it, with people over 50 with weakened immune systems or chronic lung disease most at risk.

"We conducted a review and learned that two cooling towers had elevated levels of Legionella bacteria".

Concern over a recent Legionnaire's disease outbreak in Orange County has prompted The Happiest Place on Earth® to take action.

An additional three people who had been to Anaheim but not Disneyland got sick, said Jessica Good, a spokeswoman for the Orange County Health Care Agency (OCHCA). Those who were afflicted ranged in age from 52 to 94.

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

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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. Outbreaks often happen in hot tubs, cooling towers and large air-conditioning systems that emit water vapor into the air.

One of the three cases not linked to Disneyland was fatal, the agency said.

According to Dr. Pamela Hymel, chief medical officer for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, the towers were shut down after Disney was contacted by the county health care agency on October 27 about increased Legionnaires' cases in Anaheim.

The towers are located near the New Orleans Square Train Station in the theme park.

"These towers were treated with chemicals that destroy the bacteria and are now shut down", said Hymel. While many people have no symptoms, it can cause serious pneumonia and prove unsafe to those with lung or immune system problems.

It is treated with antibiotics, which can improve symptoms and shorten the length of illness. The towers will reopen after it's confirmed they are no longer contaminated.

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