Legionnaires' disease outbreak at Disneyland sickens nine visitors

JAN. 22 2015 FILE

County health officials say 12 people contracted the lung disease, including one Disneyland employee, with one person who had not visited the park ultimately dying.

Ten of the 12 people who became ill were hospitalized.

The other three are Orange County residents who didn't visit Disneyland but live or travelled to Anaheim, reported Orange County Health Care Agency spokeswoman Jessica Good, Friday night in response to earlier Voice of OC questions.

Nine people contracted Legionnaires' disease after they visited Disneyland in Anaheim in September, officials said. "These towers were treated with chemicals that destroy the bacteria and are now shut down".

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

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Legionellosis refers to illness caused by Legionella bacteria and usually results from exposure to contaminated water aerosols or from aspirating contaminated water.

The 12 cases range in age from 52 to 94, Good said.

"On Oct. 27, we learned from the Orange County Health Care Agency of increased Legionnaires' disease cases in Anaheim".

"There is no known ongoing risk associated with this outbreak", the agency 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. 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.

Disneyland was informed of the Anaheim cases on October 27 and after testing found that two cooling towers had elevated levels of Legionella bacteria. Outbreaks often happen in hot tubs, cooling towers and large air-conditioning systems that emit water vapor into the air. Those at higher risk include people over the age of 50 with weak immune systems or lung problems.