A dozen people contracted Legionnaires’ disease in Anaheim last September, and three quarters of them had visited the Disneyland Resort. Orange County Medical experts are currently looking into the cases.

Legionnaires’ disease, or legionellosis, is caused by the bacterium Legionnella. The freshwater bacterium is usually low risk for humans, but chance of infection becomes greater when Legionella is able to multiply in indoor water systems. The disease is not contagious from person-to-person exposure; it is usually caught from inhaling microscopic water droplets in mist or vapor. Infection causes severe pneumonia in some, usually people over 50-years-old or possessing a weakened immune system. Those affected in Anaheim ranged from the ages of 52 to 94, according to Jessica Good, a spokeswoman for the Orange County Health Care Agency.

The twelve-person outbreak in Anaheim resulted in ten hospitalizations and one death. The patient with the fatal case had not visited Disneyland and possessed other health problems as well.

Disney was informed of the possibility that their parks played a role in spreading the disease on October 27th, according to a statement by Dr. Pamela Hymel. Hymel, the chief medical officer for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, stated,

“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.”

Hymel confirmed that Disney had worked with the county health care agency and dealt with the problem, and that “there is no longer any known risk associated with our facilities.”

Disney is cooperating with local health officials on the towers, which were located behing the train station in New Orleans Square.

There have been no additional confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ disease since September, said Jessica Good, and there is no known ongoing risk.

Source: Orange County Register