Legionnaires’ disease has been putting the lives of some Americans living or visiting Anaheim in danger as of late as approximately three weeks ago, 12 people contracted the disease in the Californian city based on a recent discovery by the Orange County Health Care Agency. Some of them are visitors to the popular Disneyland before getting the disease.
As what the Los Angeles Times reported, the popular theme park closed down two of its cooling towers, which are found to be tainted with bacteria, upon hearing the news of the visitors acquiring the illness.
According to Walt Disney Parks and Resorts chief medical officer Dr. Pamela Hymel, the towers have undergone chemical treatment to cleanse them of the Legionella bacteria after learning about the cases and performing a review in the park.
The agency said that on Nov. 1, the park stopped using the towers as they were tested and disinfected once more, and on Nov. 5, the park resumed its use of the towers. But last Tuesday, Disneyland halted its use of the towers before the health agency gave its order of keeping the tower closed while waiting for test results to indicate that they are safe and clean to use.
In a report from Reuters, Hymel stated that Anaheim health officials gave Disney the all-clear sign for its towers, indicating that the park is finally free from the danger of Legionnaires’ disease.
A Disneyland Resort spokeswoman said that these towers are situated in a backstage area close to the New Orleans Square Train Station. Their locations are near parts of the park that guests have access.
The afflicted individuals
Among the nine cases are people who visited Disneyland back in September and an employee of the theme park. Meanwhile, the remaining three people are either residents of Anaheim or travelers passing through the city. The agency said that the people afflicted with the illness are between the ages of 52 and 94.
Health officials have stated that 10 of these individuals have been placed under hospital care. They also reported that one person, who was not a Disneyland visitor and has more health complications aside from Legionnaires’ disease, has already died.
More cases beyond Anaheim
Outside California, there are also reported cases of Legionnaires’ disease in The Bronx in New York City and even in Portugal’s capital, Lisbon.
Per News12, two cases at the Plaza Rehab and Nursing Center, which is located at Kingsbridge Road, were reported following the discovery of Riverdale’s Hebrew Home that five of its residents were contaminated with the Legionella bacteria last October. The nursing home’s doctors quickly acted upon hearing the discovery and put the sick residents on a 10-day antibiotic regimen.
In Lisbon, the Legionnaires’ disease body count went up from the previous count of two to four people, according to DGS, the health authority of Portugal.
Reuters further reported in a separate article that since it first came up at the São Francisco Xavier hospital on Oct. 31, 40 people have been reported to be sick from the Legionnaires’ disease.
Additionally, on Nov. 4, 13 more cases have been recorded. However, reports of new cases have declined lately from three to four per day to only one on Friday, according to DGS data.
What is Legionnaires’ disease?
Legionnaires’ disease is a respiratory illness that Legionella bacteria carry. However, the same bacteria can also cause Pontiac fever, which is a nonfatal respiratory disorder.
The bacteria are usually found in environments containing freshwaters such as streams and lakes. If they are left undisturbed in water systems like heaters, water fountains, cooling towers, showers and faucets, and even hot tubs, their numbers will grow and eventually become a threat to the health of humans as they contaminate the water in these systems.
People can get the disease by inhaling droplets of the tainted water, similar to what happened to the Disneyland visitors and employee who were affected Individuals at the age of 50 and above; smokers, present or former; persons with frail immune systems; and those afflicted with a chronic lung disease are some of those more prone to the sickness.
The symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease share their similarities to pneumonia. They include fever, headaches, difficulty in breathing, cough and muscle aches, and they typically start to manifest two to 10 days after the bacteria enter a person’s body. However, it is also possible for the symptoms to show longer than anticipated, so it is advisable to keep an eye on the person exposed to the bacteria for almost two weeks.
To treat an individual afflicted with the said disease, antibiotics, and hospital care are required. Also, be aware that the disease can kill a person due to complications from it as one out of every 10 person with the ailment will die from such circumstance.
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