Outbreak of Legionnaires sickens 12 in California, including 9 at Disneyland


Disneyland shut down two cooling towers contaminated with bacteria after health officials discovered cases of Legionnaires' disease among people who had visited the theme park, the Los Angeles Times reported. One of the 12, who had other health issues and did not visit Disneyland, died. Patients ranged from age 52 to 94.

Pamela Hymel - the chief medical officer for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts - said in a written statement that after learning of the Legionnaires cases, park officials ordered the cooling towers treated with chemicals to destroy the bacteria and shut them down.

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", said Hymel.

There haven't been any new cases linked to Anaheim since September, the agency said.

Legionnaires disease is caused by the Legionella bacteria and can cause potentially fatal respiratory illness and pneumonia.

Legionella pneumophila is the most common cause of infection, and the majority of L. pneumophila infections are caused by serogroup 1.

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Hymel says that most people who are exposed to the bacteria do not become ill, and those that are at risk are people who are immunocompromised, elderly, and or have chronic lung disease.

"There is no known ongoing risk associated with this outbreak", the agency said in a statement. It is typically contracted by breathing mist from the water that contains it.

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.

People who have contracted Legionnaire's disease are not contagious.

Disneyland has shut down two bacteria-contaminated cooling towers after Orange County.

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. Soon after, an order was issued by the health agency requiring preventing Disney from reopening the towers before health officials verified that they were free from Legionella contamination.