Disneyland Shuts Down Cooling Towers After Visitors Contract Legionnaires' Disease

Disneyland Shuts Down Cooling Towers After Visitors Contract Legionnaires' Disease

Disneyland has shut down and decontaminated two cooling towers following an outbreak of Legionnaires disease that sickened 12 people, nine of them guests or employees at the theme park in California.

Nine people were struck down with the illness at Disneyland. The disease was named after 29 men died after attending an American Legion convention in Philadelphia in 1976, where the previously unidentified bacterium was breeding one of the hotel's cooling towers. 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.

Twelve cases of Legionnaires' disease are being investigated by OC health experts, among those are 9 patients who visited the park in September, according to the OC Register. Disney independently chose to take the towers out of operation the day before, Good said.

On Nov. 3, Disney informed the health agency that routine testing had detected elevated levels of Legionella bacteria in two cooling towers a month earlier. The towers will reopen after it's confirmed they are no longer contaminated.

The towers are shut down as they are treated with chemicals that kill this type of bacteria.

Disneyland, which opened in 1955 and attracts tens of thousands of visitors a day, is owned by The Walt Disney Company (DIS.N). "We have proactively shared this information with OCHCA (Orange County Health Care Agency) and given our actions".

Although the Health Care Agency sent alerts to medical providers and other public health departments to help identify other people who have contracted Legionnaire's disease, the agency issued no public press releases or statements because "there was no known, ongoing risk associated with this event", Good said.

Officials say Legionella, at low levels, poses no threat to humans and is commonly found in human-made water systems.

People who have contracted Legionnaire's disease are not contagious. It is usually found in freshwater settings, according to the health site, and "often spreads through contaminated water systems".