The disease outbreak can be traced back to park cooling towers that have since been shut down.
Disneyland has been forced to shut down two cooling towers after people who visited the park contracted Legionnaire’s disease, CNN reported.
According to Orange County health officials, nine people who visited the theme park in September have developed the disease, and three others who had been in Anaheim but not in Disneyland also contracted Legionnaires. Jessica Good, a spokeswoman for the Orange County Health Care Agency (OCHCA), said one patient who had not visited Disneyland but did have additional health issues died from the disease. Ten out of the 12 patients were hospitalized, and one was a Disneyland employee, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Legionnaire’s disease, which is a very rare type of pneumonia that’s caused by bacteria, is usually very treatable with antibiotics and does not spread from person to person. Instead, the bacteria spreads through mist from devices like air-conditioning units or something like the park’s cooling towers, which emit water vapor into the air. They are located in a backstage area near the New Orleans Square Train Station, away from guests.
According to CNN, Dr. Pamela Hymel, the chief medical officer for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, said that the towers were shut down after Disney was contacted by the county health care agency on October 27.
“We conducted a review and learned that two cooling towers had elevated levels of Legionella bacteria,” she said. “These towers were treated with chemicals that destroy the bacteria and are currently shut down. 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.”
She also says no additional cases of the disease have developed since the September incidents. The towers were shut down on November 1 for disinfecting and testing and will remain so until they are deemed completely free of contamination.