Visitors to Disneyland California hit by Legionnaires disease

Ray Weaver
November 13, 2017

About a dozen people in the Anaheim, CA area, or visitors to the area in September were diagnosed with Legionnaires' disease, according to Orange County health officials.

According to the paper, the cooling towers in question appear to be associated with the cases of 12 people who spent time in Anaheim and then were discovered to have developed the disease roughly three weeks ago. The age of the other patients range from 52 to 94, the Orange County Health Care Agency said Friday.

Legionnaires disease is a severe form of pneumonia caused by Legionella bacteria, sometimes found in water systems. The Mayo Clinic says it takes two to 10 days for those exposed to show symptoms, which include headaches, chills, fever, and eventually serious respiratory complications.

Legionnaires' disease appear to be on the rise, with Orange County reporting more than 55 cases this year.

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. Those towers were chemically treated and shut down to eliminate further infection.

The towers are located near the New Orleans Square Train Station in the theme park. One patient, who had not visited the park and had additional health issues, died, she said.

ANAHEIM, CA - DECEMBER 13: Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse Statue at Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty's Holiday Castle and "Believe In Holiday Magic" Fireworks spectacular held at Disneyland Resort on December 13, 2007 in Anaheim, California. People who are particularly susceptible to the disease are older adults, smokers, and people with weakened immune systems. An employee working in the facility also got infected with the same disease.

Cooling towers provide cold water for various uses at Disneyland and give off a vapour or mist that could have carried the Legionella bacteria. Disney took the towers out of service on November 1, performed more testing and disinfection, and brought them back into service on November 5. The towers will reopen once they are no longer contaminated, park officials said.

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