ANAHEIM (CBSLA/AP) —  Orange County Health Care Agency officials were investigating other sources Thursday after the Legionella infection was linked to nearly a dozen visitors to Disneyland, authorities said. But “The Happiest Place On Earth” may not be the only source of an outbreak of Legionnaires’ Disease after all.

Eleven of the 15 people who have contracted the disease visited Disneyland in September, where investigators believed two
cooling towers thought to be the principal source are located. The towers have since tested negative for the bacteria.

Those who are ill range in age from 52 to 94 years old.

Three new cases were reported Wednesday, two of which had made a recent visit to Disneyland.

But officials are also focusing on the four patients who didn’t visit the park as they track the source of the outbreak.

“It’s too early to point fingers at Disneyland for those four people,” said Sanjay Mohanty, a UCLA environmental engineering professor who studies water systems.

The disease can be spread through inhaling droplets from contaminated water sources. While many people have no symptoms, it can cause serious pneumonia and prove dangerous to those with lung or immune system problems.

Disneyland said it learned about the Legionnaires’ cases on Oct. 27 and shut down and disinfected the cooling towers. Water samples taken last week from the towers, which are part of air-conditioning systems, tested negative for the bacteria, officials at the theme park said Wednesday.

“Negative results mean that the towers do not pose a current ongoing risk for transmission of Legionella,” said Jessica Good, a spokeswoman for the Orange County Health Care Agency. Good told the Orange County Register the agency is working with Disney on procedures to bring the towers back into operation.

Legionella is a bacteria that grows naturally in lakes and streams. When high concentrations grow in man-made water systems, such as air conditioners and plumbing, some people develop pneumonia after breathing in contaminated vapor.

Cases of Legionnaires’ disease have been increasing nationwide and in California in recent years, and officials often struggle to identify where the infections originate, the Times said.

Thirteen out of the 15 patients were hospitalized and two, who had additional health issues, died. Neither individual who died visited Disneyland, according to the Register.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Comments
  1. S.C. Hill says:

    Just came back from Disneyland California with my family yesterday evening, and over the 2 week period, we stayed at four different hotels of 2.5 star to 3.5 star quality. It was me and my wife’s observations that all of these hotels have OLD ill maintained AC units and little or NO active ventilation of any kind (in fact one of the hotels had NO openable windows to access fresh air and the AC was so sour and moldy smelling, we had to change rooms. It is my opinion, as someone with an education in building sciences, that due to the high costs of Air conditioning, combined with hotel owners wanting to keep electrical costs down to maximize profits; fresh air ventilation is being reduced or completely eliminated to save the few dollars hotel owners see as ‘money just going out the window’ as they say. I believe the link may more likely be that most people who visit Disneyland stay at a hotel. Did the two who died recently from the illness stay at a hotel or in a building in which the ventilation is controlled by the landlord? Both my son, my wife, and I got eye infections during our stay, our son’s was so severe his eye swelled almost closed. We do not normally get eye infections, and ALL of us came down with severe colds or respiratory infections.

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