Disneyland's Legionnaires' Infection

Popular theme park, Disneyland, located in Orange County, California, shut down two of its cooling towers. The move was made after nine visitors to the park were infected with Legionnaires’ disease.

Legionnaires’ disease is a severe form of pneumonia, and is caused by Legionella bacteria. The bacteria often thrives in water systems. It is routinely contracted by patients who breathe in the mist formed by contaminated water.

The source of mist could be anything from an air conditioning unit, to a shower, or even hot tubs. The disease, while fatal in people of weakened immunity, is not infectious.

According to reports from the Orange County health office, nine people who visited the Anaheim theme park in September 2017 developed the disease. The reports also stated that an additional three people who visited only Anaheim, but not Disneyland, also fell ill.

A spokeswoman for Orange County Health Care Agency (OCHCA) stated that one patient, already suffering from additional health issues had visited only Anaheim, and had already succumbed to the illness.

Reports state that the patients were all in their senior years, between 52 and 94. Of these, 10 had suffered serious reactions to the disease and had been hospitalized.

A statement by the chief medical officer for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, Dr. Pamela Hymel, declared that the company had shut down the towers after they were alerted of the issue.

The company was informed of the disease by Orange County health officials on October 27. She stated that Disney had immediately conducted a review and found that two cooling towers had “elevated levels of Legionella bacteria”.  She added that the towers were immediately treated with chemicals that destroy the bacteria and had been temporarily closed.

Hymel also stated that the company had “proactively” shared information with the OCHCA, and had no reason to believe the risk had persisted.