Disneyland shuts down 2 cooling towers after Legionnaires' disease cases

Orange County health officials said nine people who visited the Anaheim theme park in September developed the disease. Eight of the twelve cases relate to persons visiting Disneyland, as well as someone who worked at the tourist destination.

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

The victims were aged between 52 and 94.

Ten of them were hospitalized, out of which one person (who had not visited Disneyland) reportedly died.

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.

The Orange County Health Agency said 12 cases of the bacteria-caused illness were found three weeks ago, and nine were people who visited the park in September, theLos Angeles Times reported.

Legionnaires' disease can be spread through inhaling droplets from contaminated water sources.

The health agency told The AP that no new cases have been reported. "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 issued Friday. The towers were chemically treated to combat the problem, and there is no ongoing threat to guests' health, the Register reports.

The towers are located near the New Orleans Square Train Station in the theme park. It typically strikes the elderly and people with compromised immune systems, and can be fatal, according to the Mayo Clinic.

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.

It is treated with antibiotics, which can improve symptoms and shorten the length of illness. On Nov. 1, more testing and disinfection was performed and the towers were brought back into service on Nov. 5.

  • Delores Daniels