Outbreak of Legionnaires sickens 12 in California, including 9 at Disneyland

JAN. 22 2015 FILE

Disneyland shut down two water cooling towers after health officials discovered several cases of Legionnaire's disease among people who visited the popular California theme park, authorities said.

An additional three people who had been to Anaheim but not Disneyland got sick, said Jessica Good, a spokeswoman for the Orange County Health Care Agency (OCHCA). Nine of those people had visited Disneyland in September before they developed the illness.

Legionellosis refers to illness caused by Legionella bacteria and usually results from exposure to contaminated water aerosols or from aspirating contaminated water.

The disease has similar symptoms to pneumonia, including high fever, chills, and cough.

Twelve cases of the disease have been reported in the Anaheim area; among those, eight people had visited Disneyland in September and one worked there, the Register reports. "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 Friday, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Good also said there was "no known ongoing risk with this outbreak". The Walt Disney Company is the parent company of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts and this station. It is spread by mist from contaminated water. People can contract the disease by breathing in small droplets of water in the air that contain the Legionella bacteria. Soon after, an order was issued by the health agency requiring preventing Disney from reopening the towers before health officials verified that they were free from Legionella contamination.

Legionnaires' disease is essentially an extremely risky form of pneumonia caused by inhaling the freshwater Legionella bacteria, which thrives in water systems like cooling towers, fountains, and hot tubs or pools that are not treated, per the Centres for Disease Control. It brought the towers back into service November 5, but two days later, they were taken out of service again, she said.

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