Anaheim Legionnaires’ outbreak grows; 11 cases linked to Disneyland visits

Three new cases of Legionnaires' disease were reported by Orange County health officials. Two cooling towers at Disneyland were shut down last week after they were found to have elevated levels of the bacteria.
(Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

The number of people diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease after spending time in Anaheim or Disneyland increased to 15, Orange County health officials said Wednesday.

The victims were infected between late August and October, officials said. Two patients have died, though neither of them visited Disneyland.

Legionnaires’ disease is a severe lung infection caused by Legionella bacteria that grows in water and can spread when droplets get into the air and people breathe them in.


Last week, Disneyland shut down two cooling towers that were found to have elevated levels of Legionella bacteria. The towers are in a backstage area near the New Orleans Square Train Station, each more than 100 feet from areas accessible to guests, according to Disneyland officials.

In a statement to The Times, Dr. Pamela Hymel, chief medical officer for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, said health officials had informed them “there is no longer any known risk associated with our facilities.”

Eleven of the 15 people infected had spent time at Disneyland, according to Orange County Health Care Agency spokeswoman Jessica Good. A Disneyland employee is among the 11 who fell ill with the disease, according to Disney officials.

Good said all were infected before the cooling towers were shut down.

The 15 people infected range in age from 52 to 94. Four live in Orange County but didn’t visit the theme park. The two individuals who died did not visit the park, Good said.

She said health officials were visiting hotels, motels and businesses that aren’t associated with the Disneyland Resort along the busy Harbor Boulevard corridor as they continue to look into the outbreak.

Good said the majority of patients having visited Disneyland “indicates a pattern but does not identify that specific location as the common source of infection for all cases. Our investigation is ongoing.”


Times staff writer Tony Barboza contributed to this report.

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