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

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.

The 12 cases of the bacteria-caused illness were discovered about three weeks ago among people who had spent time in Anaheim and included nine people who had visited Disneyland Park in September before developing the illness, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency. Their ages ranged from 52 to 94.

The remaining three were Orange County residents who did not visit the park but lived or traveled in Anaheim.

Ten were hospitalized and one person “with additional health issues” died, according to health officials. That person did not visit Disneyland.

Legionnaires’ is a severe lung infection caused by exposure to contaminated water or mist. Authorities said they have not tied any other cases of Legionnaires’ to Anaheim since September.

“There is no known ongoing risk associated with this outbreak,” the healthcare agency said in a statement.

The towers are in a backstage area near the New Orleans Square Train Station, each more than 100 feet from areas accessible to guests, a Disneyland Resort spokeswoman said Friday. A Disneyland employee is among those who fell ill with the disease.

“On Oct. 27, we learned from the Orange County Health Care Agency of increased Legionnaires’ disease cases in Anaheim. We conducted a review and learned that two cooling towers had elevated levels of Legionella bacteria,” Dr. Pamela Hymel, chief medical officer for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, said in a statement Friday. “These towers were treated with chemicals that destroy the bacteria and are currently shut down.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notified county authorities about three weeks ago of several cases of the disease among people who had traveled to Orange County in September. County epidemiologists discovered that a cluster of people diagnosed with the disease had recently visited, lived or worked in Anaheim and contacted Disney after learning that several of them had gone to the theme park.

According to the health agency, on Nov. 3 Disney reported that routine testing had detected elevated levels of Legionella in two cooling towers a month earlier, and the towers had been disinfected. Disney took the towers out of service on Nov….

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