SoCal Theme Park Shuts Towers Linked to Legionnaires' Disease

JAN. 22 2015 FILE

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.

Nine people were struck down with the illness at Disneyland. Ten of the 12 were hospitalized and one person with additional health issues died.

No other cases of the disease have been reported since September.

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The health agency says there haven't been any new cases reported. "We conducted a review and learned that two cooling towers had elevated levels of Legionella bacteria", Dr. Pamela Hymel, chief medical officers for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, said in a statement Friday.

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 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.

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"On November 1, 2017, Disney had the towers taken out of service. Since that time, HCA staff have visited Park properties and worked with Disney to identify potential sources of Legionella", said Jessica Good, spokeswoman for the Orange County Health Agency. "These towers were treated with chemicals that destroy the bacteria and are now shut down". "We have proactively shared this information with OCHCA (Orange County Health Care Agency) and given our actions". Test results will not be known for approximately 10-14 days.

Officials say Legionella, at low levels, poses no threat to humans and is commonly found in human-made water systems. Also among the sickened is one Disneyland employee, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Authorities said that visitors are no longer at risk of contracting the disease - a severe lung infection caused by exposure to contaminated water or mist. It is usually found in freshwater settings, according to the health site, and "often spreads through contaminated water systems".

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