Two water cooling towers at the park had to be shut down after 1 death and 10 infections

Every business and organisation has a responsibility for legionella control and it’s often assumed that it’s the small companies, who may lack resources and understanding of the bacteria, who are most likely to fall short of that responsibility, but that’s not always the case.

Disneyland in California has recently had to shut down two of its cooling towers after 1 man died and a further 11 people fell ill. 8 of these had visited the park, 1 was a Disney worker and the other 3 were residents in the Anaheim area where the park is located, including the man who sadly died.

There are 18 cooling towers at the park, in an area approximately 100 feet from guests. These units are used to treat water used in appliances such as fridges and give off a mist. Legionnaire’s Disease is usually contracted when the legionella bacteria is present in fine water vapour which can be inhaled. The 2 cooling towers affected contained high levels of the bacteria. They will remain shut until it is proven that they are free of the bacteria.

The outbreak could have been even worse, given the number of visitors to Disneyland each year. Those most at risk from Legionnaire’s Disease are children, older people and those with existing health issues. All victims were aged over 50 but it’s clear to see how dangerous this could have been when so many of the park’s visitors are very young.

Incidents such as this should be preventable by having an appropriate and robust legionella control process. We reported back in March that the USA is experiencing a huge legionella problem at the moment, having seen cases quadruple since 2000. One significant factor in this is that cooling towers and air conditioning systems are much more common in America.

While we experience far fewer cases here in the UK, we can’t be complacent. An outbreak at a hotel in Ludlow was reported just a few weeks ago in which a woman died.

Can we help you with your legionella control responsibilities?

If you feel you need more information about legionella control or just want to check that your procedures are fit for purpose you can give us a call on 01274 876700 or send us a message.