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Disneyland shuts down cooling towers after Legionnaires' outbreak
12 November 2017, 12:26 | Anna Nguyen
Disneyland shuts down cooling towers after reported disease outbreak
Disneyland shut down two of their cooling towers after multiple cases of Legionnaires' disease was found in park visitors.
County health officials say 12 people contracted the lung disease, including one Disneyland employee, with one person who had not visited the park ultimately dying.
Of the 12 cases of Legionnaire's disease that emerged in September, nine were among people who visited Disneyland in September.
The park shared its information with the Orange County health experts, Hymel said, and "they have indicated there is no longer any known risk associated with our facilities".
The infection is treatable, though about one in 10 people who contract Legionnaires' - usually those over 50 with weakened immune systems or chronic lung disease - die from it.
Legionnaires' disease is a type of pneumonia with symptoms that include cough, shortness of breath, fever, muscle aches and headaches, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Ten of the 12 people were hospitalized.
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The disease is caused by the bacterium Legionella pneumophila, found in both potable and nonpotable water systems. "We conducted a review and learned that two cooling towers had elevated levels of Legionella bacteria", Dr. Pamela Hymel, chief medical officers for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, said in a statement Friday.
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.
The two cooling towers are located in a backstage area behind the New Orleans Square train station area of the theme park.
There have been 55 reports of Legionella disease in Orange County residents through October of 2017; 53 were reported for the entire year of 2016; and 33 in 2015, according to Good.
Disney took the towers out of service again on Tuesday because the health agency required they remain down until test results verify they are free of Legionella contamination. A similar upward trend has been seen nationally and elsewhere in Southern California, according to the health care agency, though what's causing that is unclear.
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