Disneyland shuts down 2 cooling towers after Legionnaires' disease sickens park visitors

Faith Castro
November 12, 2017

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

"On November 3, 2017, Disney reported to HCA that records provided by a contractor indicated that (as part of their quarterly, routine testing) elevated levels of Legionella had been identified in (two of 18) cooling towers on October 2, 2017 and treated/disinfected by the contractor on October 4, 2017". Disney independently chose to take the towers out of operation the day before, Good said.

The chief medical officer for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, Pamela Hymel, said in a written statement that after learning of the Legionnaires cases, park officials ordered the cooling towers treated with chemicals to destroy the bacteria and shut them down. Disney took the towers out of service on November 1, performed more testing and disinfection, and brought them back into service on November 5.

Test results for the towers could take up to two weeks.

Jessica Good, a spokeswoman for the OC Health Care Agency, told the newspaper on Friday that 12 people, ages 52 to 94, were diagnosed with Legionnaires' disease. One person, who had not visited Disneyland, died from the disease.

OCHCA said the Legionnaires' disease exposure period in Anaheim was September 12-27.

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"On Oct. 27, we learned from the Orange County Health Care Agency of increased Legionnaires' disease cases in Anaheim".

There is no known ongoing risk associated with the outbreak, according to Good.

Legionellosis refers to illness caused by Legionella bacteria and usually results from exposure to contaminated water aerosols or from aspirating contaminated water. It is spread by mist from contaminated water.

Symptoms develop 2 to 10 days after exposure, the OCHCA said, and include fever, chills, cough, muscle aches, and headaches.

Treatment includes antibiotics, though hospitalization may be needed for older patients. It typically strikes the elderly and people with compromised immune systems, and can be fatal, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Other reports by LeisureTravelAid

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