Legionnaires' disease outbreak at Disneyland sickens nine visitors

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Eight guests and one worker at Disneyland have contracted Legionnaires' disease, prompting the Anaheim, Calif., theme park to close a pair of cooling towers. The other three are Orange County residents who didn't visit Disneyland but live or travelled to Anaheim, reported Orange County Health Care Agency spokeswoman Jessica Good, Friday night in response to earlier Voice of OC questions. The Anaheim outbreak includes patients between ages 52 to 94.

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Ten of the twelve were hospitalized and one person "with additional health issues" died, according to health officials.

Of the 11 total that have been diagnosed with the bacterial infection, eight have a history of visiting Disneyland Parks prior to developing illness; three have no history of Disneyland exposure.

According to a LA Times report, Disney reported on November 3 that routine testing had detected elevated levels of Legionella in two cooling towers a month earlier, and the towers had been disinfected. The company said the towers, located in a space more than 100 feet from areas accessible to guests, were disinfected and were returned to service Sunday.

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The county agency issued an order November 8 requiring Disney to take the towers out of service until they are shown to be free from contamination.

Nine people contracted Legionnaires' disease after they visited Disneyland in Anaheim in September, officials said.

Pamela Hymel, Chief Medical Officer for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, said in an email Saturday that Disney was informed by the county Health Care Agency of the outbreak on October 27.

Authorities said that visitors are no longer at risk of contracting the disease - a severe lung infection caused by exposure to contaminated water or mist. It is not contagious from person to person.

Legionnaires' disease is a progressive pneumonia with a 2-10 day incubation period.

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