Disneyland shuts cooling towers after Legionnaires' cases


Disneyland has shut down two cooling towers at its theme park after a dozen cases, including one death, from Legionnaire's disease - a serious respiratory illness caused by the Legionella bacteria - were reported in Anaheim.

According to a LA Times report, Disney reported on November 3 that routine testing had detected elevated levels of Legionella in two cooling towers a month earlier, and the towers had been disinfected. The towers were chemically treated to combat the problem, and there is no ongoing threat to guests' health, the Register reports.

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"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".

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. Their ages ranged from 52 to 94. Chief medical officer for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Dr. Pamela Hymel said in a statement Friday that upon discovery of the illness-causing bacteria, the towers were cleaned and shut down. That person did not visit Disneyland, she said. The towers are not in public areas.

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County authorities were informed by the the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention three weeks ago of several cases of the disease among people who had traveled to Orange County in September. "Disney took the towers out of service on November 1, performed more testing and disinfection, and brought them back into service on November 5".

A Disneyland employee is among those who contracted the disease, according to the report.

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According to the LA Times, the Orange County Health Care Agency, Disney reported on November 3rd that routine testing had detected elevated levels of the bacteria when the towers were taken out of service on November 1st for disinfection. Outbreaks often happen in hot tubs, cooling towers and large air-conditioning systems that emit water vapor into the air.