Legionnaire's Disease Outbreak Traced to Disneyland

Disneyland Shuts Down Two Cooling Towers After Visitors Sickened With Legionnaires' Disease

Twelve people, aged 52 to 94, were diagnosed with Legionnaires' disease, a type of airborne disease that causes a severe form of pneumonia to most people 50 years or older or with a weak immune system, Jessica Good, a spokeswoman for the Orange County Health Care Agency, wrote in an email Friday night to the Orange County Register.

Nine people contracted Legionnaires' disease after they visited Disneyland in Anaheim in September, officials said.

The towers were found to be contaminated with Legionella bacteria, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency, as reported by the Los Angeles Times. One patient, who hadn't visited the park, has died.

Of the 12 cases of Legionnaire's disease that emerged in September, nine were among people who visited Disneyland in September. Legionnaires' disease is spread by bacteria in water vapor.

Disneyland has shut down two bacteria-contaminated cooling towers after health officials discovered several cases of Legionnaires' disease in people who had visited the Anaheim theme park, authorities said.

The two cooling towers are located in a backstage area behind the New Orleans Square train station area of the theme park. Good's email statement didn't indicate if any of those who contracted the disease were related to each other.

OCHCA said the Legionnaires' disease exposure period in Anaheim was September 12-27. "We conducted a review and learned that two cooling towers had elevated levels of Legionella bacteria", the statement said.

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

Officials say Legionella, at low levels, poses no threat to humans and is commonly found in human-made water systems.

Disney took the towers out of service again on Tuesday because the health agency required they remain down until test results verify they are free of Legionella contamination. It is not contagious from person to person.

Ten of the 12 people who became ill were hospitalized.

This follows a report in late October when eight cases were being investigated.

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