Disneyland shuts down 2 cooling towers after Legionnaires' disease cases

Disneyland shuts down 2 cooling towers after Legionnaires' disease cases

Disneyland, which includes the Jungle Cruise, has shut down two bacteria-contaminated cooling towers after nine people contracted Legionnaires disease after visiting the Anaheim theme park, authorities said.

The disease is treatable, but roughly one in 10 people who contract the disease die from it, with people over 50 with weakened immune systems or chronic lung disease most at risk. Walt Disney Parks and Resorts chief medical officer Dr. Pamela Hymel noted in a statement on the matter that Disney was informed on October 27 about the potential link the park had to the recent Legionnaires' disease reports.

Twelve cases of the disease have been reported in the Anaheim area; among those, eight people had visited Disneyland in September and one worked there, the Register reports. Disney independently made a decision to take the towers out of operation the day before, Good said.

The towers were taken out of service November 1, disinfected, went back in operation on November 5 but were shut down again Tuesday and will remain offline until tests confirm they are free from contamination, according to the park and the county health agency.

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.

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

Officials say Legionella, at low levels, poses no threat to humans and is commonly found in human-made water systems.

The Legionella bacteria can cause respiratory illness and pneumonia, and especially in older people or those with existing health problems, can result in death. Also among the sickened is one Disneyland employee, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The type of pneumonia was named Legionnaires' disease after an outbreak of pneumonia caused 34 deaths at a 1976 American Legion Convention in Philadelphia in 1976. It is treated with antibiotics, which can improve symptoms and shorten the length of illness.

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