Outbreak of Legionnaires sickens 12 in California, including 9 at Disneyland

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Disneyland has shut down two cooling towers at its theme park after a dozen cases, including one death, from Legionnaire's disease - a serious respiratory illness caused by the Legionella bacteria - were reported in Anaheim. The patients, ranging in age from 52 to 94, lived or had spent time in Anaheim, and nine had visited Disneyland in September.

According to Legionella.Org, "Legionnaires' disease is a severe, often lethal, form of pneumonia It's caused by the bacterium Legionella pneumophila found in both potable and non-potable water systems". People who develop symptoms may experience fever, cough, chills, shortness of breath, headaches, muscle aches and diarrhea.

Dr Pamela Hymel, chief medical officer for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, said: "On October 27, we learned from OCHA of increased Legionnaires' disease cases in Anaheim". The towers were chemically treated to combat the problem, and there is no ongoing threat to guests' health, the Register reports. The Walt Disney Company is the parent company of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts and this station. "It can become a health concern if it grows and spreads in human-made water systems and then comes in contact with vulnerable persons who inhale small droplets of contaminated water". A Disneyland employee is among those who got sick.

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American authorities are investigating 12 cases of the bacterial lung infection that affected people living in or visiting Anaheim, California. The other nine are suffering from "additional health issues" at present.

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. It is treated with antibiotics and hospital care, but one in 10 of those who contract the disease dies from infection.

Cooling towers provide cold water for various uses at Disneyland and give off a vapour or mist that could have carried the Legionella bacteria. It brought the towers back into service November 5, but two days later, they were taken out of service again, she said.

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