Legionnaires' disease outbreak at Disneyland sickens nine visitors

Emmett Rice
November 12, 2017

According to Good, during the week of October 20-26 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notified Health Care Agency staff of the Legionnaire's disease cases that occurred in September.

Nine people contracted Legionnaires' disease after they visited Disneyland in Anaheim in September, officials said. Ten of the 11 ill were hospitalized, and one person died. That person did not visit Disneyland.

The Legionella bacteria can cause respiratory illness and pneumonia, and especially in older people or those with existing health problems, can result in death. No additional cases have been identified in Anaheim after September and there is "no known ongoing risk associated with this outbreak", Good said.

Disneyland has shut down two cooling towers after people who visited the Anaheim theme park came down with Legionnaires' disease. Good's email statement didn't indicate if any of those who contracted the disease were related to each other.

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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.

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. "These towers were treated with chemicals that destroy the bacteria and are now shut down". It is spread by mist from contaminated water. The county contacted Disney after it discovered several had gone to the park.

The health agency told The AP that no new cases have been reported. They were turned on November 5th, but were taken out of service again on November 7th and will remain off until tests verify they are free from Legionella contamination. The incubation period is two to 10 days before symptoms appear, after exposure to the bacteria. Outbreaks are often traced to hot tubs, decorative fountains, cooling towers and large air-conditioning systems that emit water vapor into the air. A similar upward trend has been seen nationally and elsewhere in Southern California, according to the health care agency, though what's causing that is unclear.

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