Disneyland shuts down cooling towers after reported disease outbreak

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About a dozen people in the Anaheim, CA area, or visitors to the area in September were diagnosed with Legionnaires' disease, according to Orange County health officials.

The other three are Orange County residents who didn't visit Disneyland but live or travelled to Anaheim, reported Orange County Health Care Agency spokeswoman Jessica Good, Friday night in response to earlier Voice of OC questions. "We conducted a review and learned that two cooling towers had elevated levels of Legionella bacteria", the statement said. The towers were chemically treated to combat the problem, and there is no ongoing threat to guests' health, the Register reports.

"There is no longer any known risk associated with our facilities", officials said, according to Kron4.

"On Oct. 27, we learned from the Orange County Health Care Agency of increased Legionnaires' disease cases in Anaheim", the statement read. Those who were afflicted ranged in age from 52 to 94. Legionnaires' can cause severe pneumonia and is spread by mist from contaminated water.

People who have contracted Legionnaire's disease are not contagious.

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According to the health agency, on November 3, Disney reported that routine testing had detected elevated levels of Legionella in two cooling towers a month earlier, and the towers had been disinfected.

The two water cooling towers are located in a backstage area near the New Orleans Square Train Station, more than 100 feet from public areas.

The county agency issued an order November 8 requiring Disney to take the towers out of service until they are shown to be free from contamination.

Those most at risk of getting sick from Legionella infection include people who are smokers, have chronic lung disease or weak immune systems, and people over the age of 65. Typical sources are improperly sanitized spas; indoor and outdoor fountains, showers, and cooling towers (which emit water vapor into the air) used as part of air conditioning systems in large spaces such as hospitals, hotels, entertainment venues, etc.

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