Published: Sun, November 12, 2017
Culture | By Henry Herrera

Disneyland shuts down cooling towers after Legionnaires' disease cases

Disneyland shuts down cooling towers after Legionnaires' disease cases

Disneyland has shut down two bacteria-contaminated cooling towers after Orange County health officials discovered several cases of Legionnaires' disease in people who had visited the Anaheim theme park, authorities said.

County health officials say 12 people contracted the lung disease, including one Disneyland employee, with one person who had not visited the park ultimately dying. It is not confirmed that all eight cases came from the Disneyland park.

According to Good, during the week of October 20-26 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notified Health Care Agency staff of the Legionnaire's disease cases that occurred in September.

The county health agency has also alerted health care providers to look for Legionnaires' disease in anyone who may have become ill after visiting Anaheim or Disneyland before November 7.

Officials say Legionella, at low levels, poses no threat to humans and is commonly found in human-made water systems. People can get Legionnaires' disease when they breathe in small droplets of water in the air that contain the bacteria. Disney took the towers out of service on November 1, performed more testing and disinfection, and brought them back into service on November 5.

According to the OCHCA, the Legionnaire's disease exposure period ranged from September 12 to September 27, Hymel said, adding that Disney thoroughly reviewed all regular water testing for the resort, "including work performed by contracted third-party experts", and "implemented additional redundant testing of other cooling towers on our property".

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The two cooling towers are located in a backstage area behind the New Orleans Square train station area of the theme park.

The towers are shut down as they are treated with chemicals that kill this type of bacteria.

On November 3, Disney reported that routine testing had detected elevated levels of Legionella in two cooling towers a month earlier, and they were disinfected, according to the health agency.

It takes 2 to 10 days for symptoms of Legionnaires' disease to appear. Infected persons often have pneumonia and may need to be hospitalized.

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

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