Disneyland shuts down 2 cooling towers after Legionnaires' disease cases

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Disneyland shut down two cooling towers after people who visited the theme park came down with Legionnaires' disease. (Jae C. Hong)

Disneyland has shut down two cooling towers after people who visited the Southern California theme park came down with Legionnaires' disease.

A dozen cases of the bacterial lung infection were discovered about three weeks ago, the Orange County Health Care Agency announced Friday.

The patients, ranging in age from 52 to 94, lived or had spent time in Anaheim, and nine had visited Disneyland in September. One patient, who hadn't visited the park, has died, the agency said.

There haven't been any new cases linked to Anaheim since September, the agency said.

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

Legionnaires' disease can be spread through inhaling droplets from contaminated water sources. While many people have no symptoms, it can cause serious pneumonia and prove dangerous to those with lung or immune system problems.

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So what is Legionnaire's disease? After 15 cases were reported in Orange County, with 11 coming from a visit to Disneyland that had infected cooling towers. People are wondering what exactly is the disease.


The disease can be treated with antibiotics.

Disneyland was informed of the Anaheim cases on Oct. 27 and after testing found that two cooling towers had elevated levels of Legionella bacteria.

In a statement, Dr. Pamela Hymel, chief medical officer for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, said Disneyland learned about the Legionnaires' cases on Oct. 27.
"We conducted a review and learned that two cooling towers had elevated levels of Legionella bacteria," the statement said. "These towers were treated with chemicals that destroy the bacteria and are currently shut down. We have proactively shared this information with OCHCA and given our actions, they have indicated there is no longer any known risk associated with our facilities."

The towers were taken out of service Nov. 1, disinfected, went back in operation on Nov. 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.

Cooling towers are evaporative systems that provide cooled water for various uses such as refrigeration but not for drinking water. The towers are not in public areas.

Orange County has had more than 55 reported cases of Legionnaires' disease this year and the number of cases has increased in recent years both in the county and nationally, according to the health care agency.

The towers will reopen after it's confirmed they are no longer contaminated.

The Walt Disney Company is the parent company of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts and this station.

Related Topics:
healthdisneylandlegionnaires' diseasehealthdisneyOrange CountyAnaheim
(Copyright ©2017 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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