Twelve cases of Legionnaires’ disease have been traced back to the Disneyland theme park in Anaheim, California, where park workers and Orange County health officials linked the infectious disease to two contaminated cooling towers.
Ten people were hospitalized, and one person – who did not visit the park and had “additional health issues – died as a result of the outbreak, the Los Angeles Times reported. Nine of the victims ranging in ages from 52 to 94 had visited Disneyland in September shortly before developing the illness, which is spread by bacteria.
Authorities have assured nervous guests and Orange County residents that the threat has now been contained.
“There is no known ongoing risk associated with this outbreak,” the Orange County Health Care Agency said in a statement.
Legionnaires’ disease is typically contracted via contaminated water or mist and causes a severe form of pneumonia. While it cannot be spread from interpersonal contact, the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ can be easily inhaled and can have a devastating impact on older adults, smokers, and people with weak immune systems.
The disease is treatable with antibiotics and usually requires hospitalization. About one in ten people who contract Legionnaires’ die from the resultant lung problems. Symptoms usually start cropping up anywhere from two to ten days after infection.
A Disney health official claimed that the problem had been taken care of in a statement released Friday.
“On Oct. 27, we learned from the Orange County Health Care Agency of increased Legionnaires’ disease cases in Anaheim,” Dr. Pamela Hymel, chief medical officer for Walt Disney Parks and resorts, said. “We conducted a review and learned that two cooling towers had elevated levels of Legionella bacteria.”
“These towers were treated with chemicals that destroy the bacteria and are currently shut down,” she added.