Legionnaires Disease Disneyland Cooling Tower Fountain?



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In this archive photo of January 22, 2015, visitors walk towards the Sleeping Beauty Castle in the background at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California.

Jae C. Hong / AP, file

LOS ANGELES – A cooling tower that provides fog to make Disneyland visitors comfortable was the likely source of 22 cases in a spate of legionnaires' disease last year near the theme park, a health official said this week.

Most of those who fell ill visited the park in the fall of 2017. Disneyland denied it was the source, pointing to three infected people who were in the city of Anaheim, where Disneyland is located, but not in the park itself. One of them died.

Dr. Matthew Zahn of the Orange County Health Care Agency testified Tuesday before an appellate judge at the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration who is investigating the case.

Zahn said testing at the time of the outbreak showed high levels of Legionella bacteria in two Disneyland cooling towers, which are part of an air-conditioning system that releases mist, the Los Angeles Times reported. He said that contaminated droplets probably spread to people in the park and beyond.

Disneyland is appealing state fines, saying the source of the outbreak was not scientifically determined.

When questioned, Zahn said he could not be 100% sure that Disneyland was the source without additional testing.

The disease is caused by bacteria that can grow in man-made water systems. People may develop pneumonia after inhaling contaminated vapor.

A young woman who was diagnosed with legionnaires after visiting Disneyland last fall filed suit against the theme park.

"The facts do not support these allegations and the action has no merit," Disney spokeswoman Suzi Brown said on Tuesday.

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