At least 9 people who visited the Anaheim theme park in September developed symptoms of Legionnaires’, according to Orange County health officials.
An additional 3 people who had been to Anaheim but not Disneyland were also diagnosed with the disease, said Jessica Good, a spokeswoman for the Orange County Health Care Agency (OCHCA). One patient, who had not visited the park and had additional health complications, has died, Good said.
The 12 patients are between the ages of 52 and 94, and 10 required hospitalization, according to Dr. Pamela Hymel, chief medical officer for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. The towers were shut down after Disney was contacted by the county health care agency on October 27 about an increased number of Legionnaires’ cases in Anaheim.
“We conducted a review and learned that two cooling towers had elevated levels of Legionella bacteria,” Hymel said. “These towers were treated with chemicals that destroy the bacteria and are currently shut down. We have proactively shared this information with OCHCA and given our actions, they have indicated there is no longer any known risk associated with our facilities.”
Legionnaires’ disease is a severe, potentially deadly type of pneumonia caused by the bacterium Legionella pneumophila, which is found in both potable and nonpotable water systems. An estimated 10,000 to 18,000 people in the U.S. are infected with Legionella bacteria, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Signs and symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease include:
- Shortness of breath
- Muscle aches