Disneyland shutdown two cooling towers this week after a small number of visitors to the park were sickened with Legionnaires' disease, park officials told The Hollywood Reporter.
Ten of the 12 people who became ill were hospitalized. Legionnaires' can cause severe pneumonia and is spread by mist from contaminated water. According to health officials, the person who died in connection to the Disneyland outbreak had additional health issues. Of the twelve reported cases in Anaheim, patients ranged in age from 52 to 94.
"We conducted a review and learned that two cooling towers had elevated levels of Legionella bacteria", Dr. Pamela Hymel, chief medical officer for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, said in a statement, according to the OC Register. The towers were taken out of service November 1, disinfected, went back in operation on November 5 but were shut down again Tuesday and will remain offline until tests confirm they are free from contamination, according to the park and the county health agency.
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"Since that time, HCA staff have visited Park properties and worked with Disney to identify potential sources of Legionella", said Jessica Good, spokeswoman for the Orange County Health Agency. The county contacted Disney after it discovered several had gone to the park. "Disney took the towers out of service on November 1, performed more testing and disinfection, and brought them back into service on November 5". It is treated with antibiotics and hospital care, but one in 10 of those who contract the disease dies from 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. Outbreaks often happen in hot tubs, cooling towers and large air-conditioning systems that emit water vapor into the air.
Those most at risk of getting sick from Legionella infection include people who are smokers, have chronic lung disease or weak immune systems, and people over the age of 65.
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