Disneyland has shut down two cooling towers in response to a number of visitors to the Anaheim, California, theme park coming down with Legionnaires' disease.
A dozen cases of the bacterial lung infection were discovered about three weeks ago, the Orange County Health Care Agency announced Friday. All the patients lived or had spent time in Anaheim and nine had visited Disneyland in September.
The Legionella bacteria can cause respiratory illness and pneumonia, and especially in older people or those with existing health problems, can result in death.
The other three cases were among residents of Anaheim, but they did not visit the park during the outbreak. In a statement, Dr. Pamela Hymel, chief medical officer for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, said Disneyland learned about the Legionnaires' cases on October 27. Those towers were chemically treated and shut down to eliminate further infection. 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. Ten were hospitalized and one person "with additional health issues" died, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times. The Walt Disney Company is the parent company of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts and this station. But in large concentrations, often due to stagnant or improperly sanitized water systems, the bacteria can be transmitted through inhaling contaminated water vapor. An employee working in the facility also got infected with the same disease.
People who have contracted Legionnaire's disease are not contagious.
"We conducted a review and learned that two cooling towers had elevated levels of Legionella bacteria", Hymel said.
Health officials subsequently issued an order that the towers remain shut down until they are verified to be free from contamination. Disney took the towers out of service on November 1, performed more testing and disinfection, and brought them back into service on November 5.