Disneyland shut down two water cooling towers due to a Legionnaires’ contamination

After several Disneyland guests were diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease, two cooling towers have been shut down. According the the Los Angeles Times‘ website, twelve cases of the disease were discovered three weeks ago in people who had recently visited Anaheim, California (the city in which Disneyland is located).

Nine of those infected had visited Disneyland in September, and all affected were between 52 and 94 years old. Ten were hospitalized, and one — who had other health issues — has died.

Legionnaires’ disease is a severe form of pneumonia caused by bacteria found in water. The illness affects 10,000 to 18,000 people per year in the U.S. The good news is that Legionnaires’ is not contagious through people. It can only be transmitted by contaminated water — usually by breathing in water droplets. Symptoms of Legionnaires’ appear between two and 10 days after exposure.

The U.S. Center for Disease Control reported that Disneyland had reported elevated levels of legionella in two water towers. Disneyland shut the towers down on November 1st for further testing and disinfection and started operating them again on November 5th.

Dr. Pamela Hymel, chief medical officer for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, wrote in a post for the Disney Parks blog that the Orange County Health Care Agency notified medical professionals of increased Legionnaires’ cases in Anaheim on October 27th. Hymel added that upon learning this information, the park reviewed its water testing data and discovered that two cooling towers had been contaminated.

"These towers were treated with chemicals to destroy the bacteria and are currently shut down to further eliminate any ongoing concern," she wrote. "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."

It’s scary to read about this kind of thing— especially in places we know and love, like Disneyland. But the outbreak is under control, and there is no cause for further alarm. We’re hoping the remaining 11 people who were infected are well on their way to recovery.