Has anyone died in Disneyland because of Legionnaires'? Here's what we know
CNN reported this morning, November 13th, that nine Disneyland Park visitors have contracted Legionnaires’ disease. These nine people attended the park in September, but another three people who visited the city of Anaheim have also been diagnosed with the disease. One of the additional three patients, who had previous medical conditions, died, and 10 out of the 12 patients diagnosed with Legionnaires’ have been hospitalized. These patients range from age 52 to 94.
The Orange County Health Care Agency (OCHCA) contacted the park on October 27th after an increase of Legionnaires’ cases in Anaheim was recorded. In response, Disneyland shut down two of its cooling towers, which control air conditioning at the park.
Those two towers have since been treated with Legionella-destroying chemicals. As a result, the county health care agency has determined that there is no longer a risk for infection at the Anaheim Disney park or at surrounding locations.
Legionnaire’s disease is defined as a severe form of pneumonia caused by the bacterium Legionella pneumophila. It is commonly found in public water systems like hot tubs, fountains, or in the case, air conditioning towers, which spread the bacteria through the air.
Symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease include headache, muscle aches, fever, chills, cough, and diarrhea.
In the United States, about 10,000 to 18,000 people are diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease yearly. And although most recover, it’s not uncommon for older patients with weaker immune systems to end up in the hospital or to be at risk for death.
According to Legionella.org, patients treated with antibiotics soon after diagnosis usually recover without any issues. But for those who have “compromised immune systems,” delay in treatment can put the patient in the hospital and at risk for deadly complications.
Any previous issues with the lungs, including a history with smoking, will also put a Legionnaires’ patient at risk for complications or death.
According to OCHA spokeswoman Good, the two affected Disneyland towers were put back into service on November 5th, but then shut down again. It will be another two weeks before the results of recent tests come back to notify the park if the towers are free from contamination.