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Disneyland shuts down 2 cooling towers after guests contract Legionnaires' disease
13 November 2017, 12:55 | Franklin Nunez
Legionnaires' disease outbreak at Disneyland sickens nine visitors
Disneyland has shut down two cooling towers after nine people contracted Legionnaires' disease at the theme park.
One of the three cases of the respiratory illness not linked to Disneyland was fatal in an individual who had additional health issues, said Jessica Good of the Orange County Health Care Agency.
The 12 patients are between ages 52 and 94, and 10 were hospitalized, she said.
Legionnaires' disease is essentially an extremely risky form of pneumonia caused by inhaling the freshwater Legionella bacteria, which thrives in water systems like cooling towers, fountains, and hot tubs or pools that are not treated, per the Centres for Disease Control.
"These towers were treated with chemicals that destroy the bacteria and are now shut down", said Hymel.
"Legionnaires' disease is not contagious, can not be transmitted person to person, and comes from a bacteria that is naturally in the environment, usually in water", says Dr. Hymel.
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Legionnaires' disease appear to be on the rise, with Orange County reporting more than 55 cases this year.
It's caused by the bacterium Legionnella pneumophilia. People who are particularly susceptible to the disease are older adults, smokers, and people with weakened immune systems. "It can become a health concern if it grows and spreads in human-made water systems and then comes in contact with vulnerable persons who inhale small droplets of contaminated water". It is typically contracted by breathing mist from the water that contains it.
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.
Hymel said that local health officials had assured them that there was no longer any risk to guests or employees of the park.
Disneyland has shut down two bacteria-contaminated cooling towers after Orange County. It brought the towers back into service November 5, but two days later, they were taken out of service again, she said. Soon after, an order was issued by the health agency requiring preventing Disney from reopening the towers before health officials verified that they were free from Legionella contamination.
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