Disneyland officials have confirmed that the Southern California theme park has shut down two cooling towers after inspectors found elevated levels of a bacteria believed to have contributed to a small outbreak of Legionnaires' disease.
The two cooling towers are located in a backstage area behind the New Orleans Square train station area of the theme park. Neither Disney nor the contractor would have been aware of the human cases at that time. Disney independently chose to take the towers out of operation the day before, Good said. The towers are not in public areas. Test results will not be known for approximately 10-14 days.
On Tuesday, Disney took the towers down again because the health agency ordered them to verify they were free of the Legionella contamination.
Jessica Good, a spokeswoman for the OC Health Care Agency, told the newspaper on Friday that 12 people, ages 52 to 94, were diagnosed with Legionnaires' disease. That person had not visited Disneyland.
As reported by ABC 7, Disney's Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Pamela Hymel confirmed that Disney learned of the cases on October 27.
The bacteria commonly is found in water systems and poses no threat to humans at low levels. It becomes problematic when it is in large quantities, typically due to stagnant or improperly sanitized spas and water systems.
Cooling towers provide cold water for various uses at Disneyland and give off a vapor or mist that could have carried the Legionnella bacteria.
Pontiac fever is a self-limited, influenza-like illness without pneumonia that has a 1-2 day incubation period caused by an inflammatory response to L. pneumophila-produced endotoxin. It is treated with antibiotics, which can improve symptoms and shorten the length of illness.
Persons with legionellosis are not infectious; the infection is not spread from person to person.
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