Published: Sun, November 12, 2017
Entertaiment | By Lawrence Myers

Disneyland Shuts Down Two Cooling Towers After Visitors Sickened With Legionnaires' Disease

Disneyland Shuts Down Two Cooling Towers After Visitors Sickened With Legionnaires' Disease

Disneyland shut down two of their cooling towers after multiple cases of Legionnaires' disease was found in park visitors.

The 12 victims ranged from 52 to 94 years old.

The health agency had tracked 12 cases of the respiratory disease in the Anaheim area, including the nine cases among Disneyland visitors. Ten of the 12 were hospitalized and one person with additional health issues died. That person did not visit Disneyland. 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.

People generally contract the disease two days after exposure and usually can be treated with antibiotics, though the CDC said one in 10 people die from the infection. Legionnaires' can cause severe pneumonia and is spread by mist from contaminated water. A Disneyland employee is among those who fell ill with the disease.

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The disease is caused by the bacterium Legionella pneumophila, found in both potable and nonpotable water systems.

Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chief Medical Officer Pamela Hymel said Disney conducted more tests on all of their water towers.

According to the LA Times, the Orange County Health Care Agency, Disney reported on November 3rd that routine testing had detected elevated levels of the bacteria when the towers were taken out of service on November 1st for disinfection.

County authorities were informed by the the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention three weeks ago of several cases of the disease among people who had traveled to Orange County in September. The towers will reopen once they are no longer contaminated, park officials said.

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"These towers were treated with chemicals that destroy the bacteria and are now shut down", said Hymel.

The two cooling towers are located in a backstage area behind the New Orleans Square train station area of the theme park. It typically strikes the elderly and people with compromised immune systems, and can be fatal, according to the Mayo Clinic.

This follows a report in late October when eight cases were being investigated.

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