Disneyland Shuts Down Cooling Towers After Infecting Visitors With Legionnaire's Disease

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These 12 people were between the ages of 52 and 94.

The county health agency alerted health care providers to keep an eye on anyone who visited Anaheim or Disneyland and contracted Legionnaires' disease before November 7.

Disneyland has shut down two cooling towers after people who visited the Southern California theme park came down with Legionnaires' disease. Health officials said 10 people were hospitalized, and one person "with additional health issues" died but was not among those who visited Disneyland. The towers contained a high level of Legionella bacteria, which can cause Legionnaires' disease, and 12 people in the Anaheim area were reported sick. A Disneyland employee is among those who got sick.

County authorities were informed by the the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention three weeks ago of several cases of the disease among people who had traveled to Orange County in September. "These towers were treated with chemicals that destroy the bacteria and are now shut down".

Legionnaires disease is caused by the Legionella bacteria and can cause potentially fatal respiratory illness and pneumonia. The Anaheim-based theme park has closed two of its cooling towers in response to the outbreak. If that contaminated water is in droplets that are small enough for people to breathe in, like from a shower, hot tub, decorative fountain, or (as what may have occurred in Disneyland) an air conditioning cooling unit, then they can contract the respiratory disease.

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Orange County has had more than 55 reported cases of Legionnaires' disease this year and the number of cases has increased in recent years both in the county and nationally, according to the health care agency.

Disneyland, however, took the cooling towers out of service again on November 7, in advance of an order issued by the health agency the next day, which required they remain nonoperational until test results guarantee they are free from contamination. However, it is not contagious, as it is not spread from one person to another.

Symptoms develop 2 to 10 days after exposure, the OCHCA said, and include fever, chills, cough, muscle aches, and headaches.

The disease can be treated with antibiotics.