Disneyland Shuts Down Two Cooling Towers After Legionnaires' Disease Outbreak

13 November, 2017, 00:22 | Author: Andrea Terry
  • Legionnaires Disease Found Among Disneyland Visitors

Health officials are investigating 12 cases of Legionnaires' disease traced to Anaheim, California, including nine cases among visitors to Disneyland in September. The victims' ages range from 52 to 94.

According to Legionella.Org, "Legionnaires' disease is a severe, often lethal, form of pneumonia It's caused by the bacterium Legionella pneumophila found in both potable and non-potable water systems". The Mayo Clinic says it takes two to 10 days for those exposed to show symptoms, which include headaches, chills, fever, and eventually serious respiratory complications. Disneyland was informed of the cases October 27, chemically treating and voluntarily shutting down two cooling towers to rid them of the Legionella bacteria, said Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chief Medical Officer Pamela Hymel. Those towers were chemically treated and shut down to eliminate further infection.

Although the Health Care Agency sent alerts to medical providers and other public health departments to help identify other people who have contracted Legionnaire's disease, the agency issued no public press releases or statements because "there was no known, ongoing risk associated with this event", Good said.


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

Most cases of the infection start when people inhale microscopic water droplets containing legionella bacteria. A Disneyland employee is among those who got sick.

On November 3, Disney reported that routine testing had detected elevated levels of Legionella in two cooling towers a month earlier, and they were disinfected, according to the health agency. Ten were hospitalized; one who did not visit the park died. The other nine are suffering from "additional health issues" at present. On Nov. 1, more testing and disinfection was performed and the towers were brought back into service on Nov. 5. The towers will reopen once they are no longer contaminated, park officials said.

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