Disneyland Suffers Legionnaires’ Disease Outbreak
Last week, Disneyland shut down two bacteria contaminated cooling towers after Orange County health officials discovered several cases of Legionnaires’ disease in people who had visited the Anaheim theme park. 12 cases of the disease were discovered about three weeks ago among people who had spent time in Anaheim, which includes nine people who had visited Disneyland in September before getting the disease. According to health officials, ten of the infected people were hospitalized and one person, who did not visit Disneyland, died due to additional health issues. The ages of the people that were infected by the disease ranged from 52 to 94. Dr. Pamela Hymel, chief medical officer for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, stated:
On Oct. 27, we learned from the Orange County Health Care Agency of increased Legionnaires’ disease cases in Anaheim. We conducted a review and learned that two cooling towers had elevated levels of Legionella bacteria. These towers were treated with chemicals that destroy the bacteria and are currently shut down.
The disease is a severe lung infection caused by Legionella bacteria that grow in water and can spread when small droplets get into the air and people breathe them in. Outbreaks are often traced to hot tubs, decorative fountains, cooling towers and large air-conditioning systems that emit water vapor into the air. The illness can be treated with antibiotics and hospital care, but unfortunately 1 in 10 people who get Legionnaires’ disease die from the infection. Luckily, Legionnaires’ is not spread from person to person, but the most at risk people are those that are older than 50 with weakened immune systems or chronic lung diseases. It takes two to 10 days for symptoms of Legionnaires’ to appear. Disney took the infected cooling towers out of service until test results verify they are free from Legionella contamination.