Sep 07, 2018

Disneyland Cooling Towers Linked to Legionnaires' Outbreak

A Cal-OSHA investigation has found Disneyland failed to perform proper maintenance on cooling towers, contributing to a 22 person outbreak of Legionnaires' disease last fall

Disneyland linked to Legionnaires' disease outbreak
Disneyland linked to Legionnaires' disease outbreak

The California Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., $33,000 for failing to properly clean cooling equipment connected to an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease. The disease outbreak occurred in fall 2017, resulting in one death and 22 cases of illness. Out of the 22 reported cases, 19 of the people infected had visited the park recently. The state’s citation was issued March 2018 and the Los Angeles Times obtained the citation Sept. 2018, shedding new light on the source of the water quality related outbreak.

According to the analysis by the Los Angeles Times, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal-OSHA) investigated the outbreak because three Disneyland employees fell ill, two of them requiring hospitalization.

“The employer failed to ensure equipment in service [was] kept clean, in sanitary condition, inspected and maintained as recommended by the manufacturer, as not to give rise to employee harmful exposure to Legionella pneumophila and other airborne bacteria,” Cal-OSHA said in the citation.

Cal-OSHA’s investigation found that several of the cooling towers had not been properly maintained, making an ideal environment for legionella bacteria growth. The agency found that Disneyland was not performing weekly bacteria inspections during the time of the outbreak and that the cooling towers were not tested while they were offline, with the first tests of 2017 performed in late September. The stagnant water in the offline cooling tower pipes likely created an ideal area for the legionella bacteria to thrive.

Disneyland has refuted the state’s claims that they are liable for the outbreak, citing the three people in the outbreak who did not visit Disneyland during that time.