Disneyland Shuts Down Cooling Towers due to Legionnaires’ Cases

1978 Dr. William Cherry This micrograph depicted details seen in a lung tissue specimen from a Knoxville patient with fatal pneumonia due to Legionnaires’ disease. The tissue was stained using hematoxylin-eosin (H&E) stain. <i>Legionella pneumophila</i> are Gram-negative bacteria. Using H&E stain, these organisms, if present in the specimen, would stain a pink or red color.<p>Note how the alveolar spaces are so congested with a leukocytic infiltrate in response to the infection<b>How serious is it? What is the treatment? </b><p>Legionnaires' disease can be very serious and can cause death in up to 5% to 30% of cases. Most cases can be treated successfully with antibiotics, and healthy people usually recover from infection. <b>How do people get Legionnaires’ disease?</b><p>People get Legionnaires' disease when they breathe in a mist or vapor (small droplets of water in the air) that has been contaminated with the bacteria. One example might be from breathing in the steam from a whirlpool spa that has not been properly cleaned and disinfected.<p>The bacteria are NOT spread from one person to another person.<p>Outbreaks are when two or more people become ill in the same place at about the same time, such as patients in hospitals. Hospital buildings have complex water systems, and many people in hospitals already have illnesses that increase their risk for Legionella infection.<p>Other outbreaks have been linked to aerosol sources in the community, or with cruise ships and hotels, with the most likely sources being whirlpool spas, cooling towers (air-conditioning units from large buildings), and water used for drinking and bathing.

FLORIDA – Disneyland Park has shut down two cooling towers at its park in Southern California following an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease.

Orange County health officials said nine people who visited the Anaheim theme park in September developed the disease.

An additional three people who had been to Anaheim but not Disneyland got sick too, said Jessica Good, a spokeswoman for the Orange County Health Care Agency. One patient, who had not visited the park and had additional health issues, died, she said.

The 12 patients are between ages 52 and 94, and 10 were hospitalized, she said.

CNN has reached out to Disneyland for comment but has not heard back.

“To date, no additional Legionella cases have been identified with potential exposure in Anaheim after September,” Good said. “There is no known ongoing risk associated with this outbreak.”

Legionnaires disease is a severe form of pneumonia caused by Legionella bacteria, sometimes found in water systems. It is typically contracted by breathing mist from the water that contains it. The source of the mist can be air conditioning units in large facilities, showers or hot tubs. Legionnaires’ disease is not contagious between humans.

County health officials identified Disneyland Park as a common location of eight of the cases last month, and have been working to identify potential sources, Good said.

Disneyland Park informed health officials this month that elevated levels of Legionella had been identified in two of its 18 towers, which were then treated and disinfected.

Disneyland took the towers out of service on November 1 and told the health agency it had performed additional disinfecting and testing. It brought the towers back into service November 5, but two days later, they were taken out of service again,she said.

Health officials subsequently issued an order that the towers remain shut down until they are verified to be free from contamination. The results of the tests will not be known for about two weeks.

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