In unsettling Disneyland news, two water cooling towers located in the backstage area of the park have been shut down after multiple incidents of Legionnaires disease were reported. According to the Los Angeles Times, twelve cases of the severe lung disease caused by exposure to contaminated water or mist were discovered three weeks ago—nine of which involved people who had spent time at Disneyland in September. The other two individuals had spent time in Anaheim, the city in which the park is located.
Ranging in age from 52-94, ten of the individuals affected by the bacteria-contaminated cooling towers were hospitalized. According to the LA Times, one of the two individuals who had not been to Disneyland but contracted the disease and had a medical history of "additional health issues" died. (According to the CDC, about one out of every 10 people who get sick from Legionnaires’ disease will die.)
Although the disease is not contagious or transmitted person-to-person, it grows and spreads in human-made water systems. Those who have Legionnaires disease often face pneumonia-like symptoms, including high fever, chills, and a cough.
In a statement on the Disney Parks blog, Pamela Hymel, Chief Medical Officer for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, wrote: "Upon being notified by OCHCA about the increased cases of Legionnaires’ disease in Anaheim, we worked closely with health care officials to see if there were potential areas of concern. We reviewed our water quality testing data, including testing performed by our third-party water quality maintenance contractor, 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 to further eliminate any ongoing concern. 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."
The statement continued: "While there is no ongoing concern at Disneyland Resort, we are committed to providing a safe and healthy environment for all who visit or work at our parks and resorts. If you have further questions about Legionnaires’ disease, I encourage you to visit https://www.cdc.gov/legionella/index.html."