Disneyland shut down two cooling towers after it was discovered they may have played a role in a small Legionnaire’s disease outbreak in southern California, the Los Angeles Times reported on Saturday.
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. Nine of the individuals had spent time in Disneyland Park in September, the Orange County Health Care Agency told the paper, and all were aged between 52 and 94. Ten were hospitalized; one who did not visit the park died.
Pamela Hymel, the chief medical officer for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts released a written statement explaining how park officials shut down the cooling towers and decontaminated them with chemicals to destroy the Legionnaires bacteria.
Legionnaires disease is formed by the Legionella bacteria and affects victims by causing an outbreak of potentially fatal respiratory illness and pneumonia. Older victims and those with pre-existing health issues are more at risk.
According to recent reports from the Orange County health agency, Legionella has been spreading more within the United States and in Orange County. In Orange County alone there were 55 cases reported through October 2017, compared with 53 for all of 2016 and 33 in 2015.
Symptoms from Legionnaires develop 2 to 10 days after exposure to the disease and include fever, chills, cough, muscle aches, and headaches. The disease is not contagious and can be treated with antibiotics, which improve symptoms and shorten the length of illness.
Hymel has confirmed that local health officials have assured them that there no longer was any risk of guests or employees of the park catching the disease at Disneyland.