Disneyland shuts down cooling towers over Legionnaires' cases

JAN. 22 2015 FILE

Disneyland has shut down two cooling towers at its theme park after a dozen cases, including one death, from Legionnaire's disease - a serious respiratory illness caused by the Legionella bacteria - were reported in Anaheim.

California's Orange County Health Agency (OCHA) said 12 cases of the disease were found three weeks ago, nine of which were reported back in September. The victims' ages range from 52 to 94.

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

According to Mayo Clinic, "People who have been affected by the disease often show signs and symptoms such as headache, muscle pain, chills, fever that may be 104 F (40 C) or higher, cough (accompanying sometimes by mucus and blood), shortness of breath, chest pain, gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, delusions and other mental disorders etc".

The other three cases were Orange County residents who did not visit the park but lived or traveled in Anaheim. Disneyland was informed of the cases October 27, chemically treating and voluntarily shutting down two cooling towers to rid them of the Legionella bacteria, said Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chief Medical Officer Pamela Hymel. The towers were chemically treated to combat the problem, and there is no ongoing threat to guests' health, the Register reports. An employee working in the facility also got infected with the same disease.

"We conducted a review and learned that two cooling towers had elevated levels of Legionella bacteria", Hymel said in the release.

Ten were hospitalized and one person "with additional health issues" died, according to health officials.

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

Nine people have contracted Legionnaire's disease after visiting Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif. Older people and those with health issues are particularly at risk. The towers will reopen once they are no longer contaminated, park officials said.

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