Outbreak of Legionnaires sickens 12 in California, including 9 at Disneyland

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

The age range of those that contracted the disease during this concentrated period goes from 52 to 94.

Legionnaires disease is caused by the Legionella bacteria and can cause potentially fatal respiratory illness and pneumonia.

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. "We conducted a review and learned that two cooling towers had elevated levels of Legionella bacteria". Those towers were chemically treated and shut down to eliminate further infection.

The agency said there is no known ongoing risk associated with the outbreak.

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OCHCA were notified that of 11 individuals who were diagnosed with the disease, eight had visited the resort.

The towers, in question, are located in the backstage area near the New Orleans Square Train Station, each more than 100 feet from the areas accessible to visitors. It is spread by mist from contaminated water. An employee working in the facility also got infected with the same disease. Ten were hospitalized and one person "with additional health issues" died, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.

According to the OCHCA, the Legionnaire's disease exposure period ranged from September 12 to September 27, Hymel said, adding that Disney thoroughly reviewed all regular water testing for the resort, "including work performed by contracted third-party experts", and "implemented additional redundant testing of other cooling towers on our property". It is treated with antibiotics and hospital care, but one in 10 of those who contract the disease dies from infection. On Nov. 1, more testing and disinfection was performed and the towers were brought back into service on Nov. 5.

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.

  • Myrtle Hill