Disneyland Shuts Down Cooling Towers After Visitors Contract Legionnaires' Disease

Phillip Cunningham
November 13, 2017

In response to the health issue, Disneyland voluntarily shut down two cooling towers (which are inaccessible to guests) that was found to have elevated levels of the bacteria associated with the disease.

There has been one death - the person had not visited the theme park.

Nine people contracted Legionnaires' disease after they visited Disneyland in Anaheim in September, officials said.

Dr. Pamela Hymel, chief medical officer for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, said in a statement that Disneyland learned about the Legionnaires' cases on October 27.

On November 3, Disney reported that routine testing had detected elevated levels of Legionella in two cooling towers a month earlier, and they were disinfected, according to the health agency.

"These towers were treated with chemicals that destroy the bacteria and are now shut down", said Hymel.

"To date, no additional Legionella cases have been identified with potential exposure in Anaheim after September", Good said. The health agency said there is no ongoing risk to the public and no other cases have been reported, although they cautioned public health officials to be aware of the situation.

Legionnaires' disease is a progressive pneumonia with a 2-10 day incubation period. Disney took the towers out of service on November 1, performed more testing and disinfection, and brought them back into service on November 5.

Concern over a recent Legionnaire's disease outbreak in Orange County has prompted The Happiest Place on Earth® to take action. But in large concentrations, often due to stagnant or improperly sanitized water systems, the bacteria can be transmitted through inhaling contaminated water vapor.

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.

Hymel says that most people who are exposed to the bacteria do not become ill, and those that are at risk are people who are immunocompromised, elderly, and or have chronic lung disease.

The disease can be treated with antibiotics.

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