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Disneyland outbreak of Legionnaires’ Disease infects 12
occhietto / CCL
Life is a little less joyous at “The Happiest Place on Earth” these days.
Anaheim, California, experienced an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease last week, and health officials said a majority of the cases had one thing in common. Most of those afflicted with it had recently visited Disneyland. As a result two of the theme park’s cooling towers had to be shut down.
Watch the report, via CBS News Los Angeles:
The Orange County Health Care Agency says 12 cases of the bacterial illness were discovered about three weeks ago. All the patients lived or had spent time in Anaheim, and nine had visited Disneyland in September. Their ages ranged from 52 to 94.
One death reported
The people who came down with the disease actually contracted it a month ago. Fox News reported:
A dozen cases of the bacterial lung infection were discovered about three weeks ago, the Orange County Health Care Agency said Friday.
The patients, ranging in age from 52 to 94, lived or had spent time in Anaheim, and nine had visited Disneyland in September. One patient, who hadn’t visited the park, has died, the agency said.
There have been no reports of additional outbreaks of the disease since September.
“There is no known ongoing risk associated with this outbreak,” the agency said.
Legionnaires’ disease is contracted by inhaling water droplets from contaminated sources and doesn’t spread from person-to-person. Symptoms can range from nil to severe pneumonia, and can prove especially harmful to those with existing pulmonary immune problems.
Outbreak traced to theme park
Disneyland began testing its facilities after it was told of the problem in late October. As a result, the park found that two cooling towers had elevated levels of Legionella bacteria.
In a statement to CBS2 Los Angeles Saturday, Dr. Pamela Hymel, chief medical officer for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, wrote:
On October 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.
We have proactively shared this information with OCHCA and given our actions, they have indicated there is no longer any known risk associated with our facilities.
She added that those afflicted were exposed to the bacteria between Sept. 12 and Sept. 27.
“According to OCHCA, there is no longer any known risk associated with any of our facilities,” Hymel said.
Fox News reported:
Cooling towers are evaporative systems that provide cooled water for various uses such as refrigeration but not for drinking water. The towers are not in public areas.
Disney operates a total of 18 cooling towers across its Anaheim parks, the Orange County Register reported. None of the other 16 towers had high levels of Legionella bacteria, the report said.
The bacteria got its name from a 1976 outbreak of the disease at a Philadelphia American Legion convention. Of the 2,000 convention-goers, more than 130 were hospitalized and 25 died.
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