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The Disneyland Resort has shut down two bacteria-contaminated cooling towers after Orange County health officials discovered several cases of Legionnaires’ disease in people who had visited the theme park. According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, 12 cases of the bacteria-caused illness were discovered about three weeks ago among people who had spent time in Anaheim. This number included nine people who had visited Disneyland in September before developing the illness.
Who Was Affected?
The ages of the victims ranged from 52 to 94. The remaining three were Orange County residents who did not visit the park but lived or traveled in Anaheim. Ten were hospitalized and one person, who had other health issues, died, officials said. Legionnaires’ is a severe lung infection caused by exposure to contaminated water or mist. Authorities have not linked any other cases of Legionnaires’ to Anaheim since September. The Orange County Health Care Agency said there is no ongoing risk associated with the outbreak.
The bacteria were reportedly found in a backstage area near the New Orleans Square Train Section of the park, each more than 100 feet from areas accessible to guests. A Disneyland employee was among those who were sickened. Disney officials said they treated the towers with chemicals soon after learning about the illnesses.
What is Legionnaires’ Disease?
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Legionella bacteria can cause Legionnaires’ disease or Pontiac fever. About 6,000 cases of Legionnaires’ disease were reported in the United States in 2015. However, because Legionnaires’ disease is likely under-diagnosed this number may underestimate the true incidence. About one out of every 10 people who get sick from Legionnaires’ disease will die.
People can get the disease when they breathe in small droplets of water in the air that contains the bacteria. In general, the disease is not transmitted from person to person. However, it is possible in rare cases. It takes about 10 days for symptoms of Legionnaires’ to appear. Symptoms may include high fever (over 103°F), diarrhea, headaches, muscle aches, chest pain and shortness of breath.
If you got the disease as a result of someone else’s negligence, you may be able to file a lawsuit for damages. You may be able to seek compensation for damages including medical expenses, lost wages, hospitalization, cost of medication, pain and suffering and emotional distress. An experienced Anaheim personal injury lawyer will be able to give you more information regarding your legal rights and options.