Disneyland shuts cooling towers after Legionnaires' outbreak

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

Legionnaires' disease is a type of pneumonia caused by legionella bacteria.

The disease was detected in three more people who had not visited the theme park, but who either lived in or had travelled to Anaheim. In a statement, Dr. Pamela Hymel, chief medical officer for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, said Disneyland learned about the Legionnaires' cases on October 27. "These towers were treated with chemicals that destroy the bacteria and are now shut down".

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

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

ANAHEIM, CA - DECEMBER 13: Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse Statue at Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty's Holiday Castle and "Believe In Holiday Magic" Fireworks spectacular held at Disneyland Resort on December 13, 2007 in Anaheim, California. Ten were hospitalized; one who did not visit the park died. An employee working in the facility also got infected with the same disease.

Twelve people in the Anaheim region have been affected by the disease, including one who died. It is spread by mist from contaminated water.

Legionnaires' disease is essentially an extremely risky form of pneumonia caused by inhaling the freshwater Legionella bacteria, which thrives in water systems like cooling towers, fountains, and hot tubs or pools that are not treated, per the Centres for Disease Control. Older people and those with health issues are particularly at risk.

The county agency issued an order November 8 requiring Disney to take the towers out of service until they are shown to be free from contamination. The towers will reopen after it's confirmed they are no longer contaminated.

Disney took the towers out of service again on Tuesday.


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