Our law firm is representing people sickened in the Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in Anaheim, California. The investigation is looking for connections with visits to Disneyland and at hotels and businesses located along the Harbor Boulevard corridor. If you or a family member was sickened in this outbreak, contact us and ask for a free consultation with a Legionnaires’ disease lawyer at our law firm.
“It may take a few weeks to find the source of this outbreak because dozens of cooling towers on buildings in Anaheim need to be tested for Legionella, the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease.”Attorney Fred Pritzker
The Orange County Health Care Agency (OCHCA), the California Department of Public Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have launched an investigation into a second cluster of Legionnaires’ disease cases in Anaheim, California.
Disneyland Park shut down two of its eighteen cooling towers after learning from the OCHCA on October 27 that 12 people between the ages of 52 and 94 had contracted Legionnaires’ disease, a severe form of pneumonia. 9 of these initial outbreak patients had visited Disneyland in September. Upon investigation, it was ascertained that two of the park’s cooling towers contained dangerous levels of Legionella pneumonia bacteria, which causes the illness.
“We conducted a review and learned that two cooling towers had elevated levels of Legionella bacteria … These towers were treated with chemicals that destroy the bacteria and are currently shut down. We have proactively shared this information with OCHCA and given our actions, they have indicated there is no longer any known risk associated with our facilities.” – Dr. Pamela Hymel, Chief Medical Officer, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts
The two contaminated towers were shut down on November 1, returned to service on November 5th, but then turned off again two days later. OCHCA has mandated that they remain out of service until additional tests verify that they are free of the Legionella bacteria.
Anaheim Legionnaires’ Disease Cases Increase
Over the past week the Anaheim Legionnaires’ disease outbreak case count has risen. 16 people have been sickened, 14 have been hospitalized, and 2 of these victims have died. Four of these cases occurred in individuals who, although they lived in or had visited Anaheim, had not visited Disneyland. Thus, health officials are continuing to search beyond Disneyland for other possible sources of the outbreak. Sanjay Mohanty, an environmental engineering professor at UCLA, told the Los Angeles Times that “It’s too early to point fingers at Disneyland for those four people.”
How Can Our Lawyers Help You?
Contact our law firm about a Legionnaires’ disease lawsuit for personal injury or wrongful death. When the source of the Anaheim Legionnaires’ disease outbreak is found, our lawyers will be ready to hold the responsible business accountable.
Jessica Good, spokeswoman for the OCHCA, has announced that health officials will be focusing their investigation on hotels and businesses located along the Harbor Boulevard corridor. Unlike the Disneyland victims, who all attended the park in September, the four unexplained cases contracted the disease from late August through late October.
Mohanty and Good disagree as to whether these four cases should be linked to the Disneyland cooling towers. Good told the Los Angeles Times in an email that “Though it will not be possible to definitely link the cases to the cooling towers, the level of contamination and their location suggests that they are a potential source for some or all cases.” However, Mohanty questions this since the two contaminated cooling towers are located in a space near the New Orleans Square Train Station more than 100 feet away from areas accessible by guests: “The bacteria would have had to travel even farther to infect people outside the park. If that’s the case I would expect more people to get sick, not only four.”
Legionella Pneumonia Bacteria in Cooling Towers
In a 2006 article published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases, researchers presented evidence Legionella can travel as far as 7 km (4.35 miles) when disseminated in an airborne spread from a cooling tower. Studying a Legionnaire’s disease outbreak that sickened 86 and killed 18 people in Pas-de-Calais, France, the scientists were the first to demonstrate how very far the bacteria can be transmitted.
Cooling towers are thus one of the most dangerous sources of Legionnaire’s disease, as was in fact demonstrated in 2015 when Legionella bacteria disseminated from a cooling tower at the Opera House Hotel in the Bronx sickened over 120 individuals, killing 12. The bacteria traveled over a 6.5 square mile area. This serious outbreak prompted New York City officials to pass the country’s first regulatory legislation requiring registration, maintenance, and regular inspection of cooling towers for Legionella. Building owners who fail comply with an order by the health department to have their cooling tower inspected and sanitized can be fined up to $25,000 and face one year in prison.
Legionnaire’s disease is often fatal to people who are over 50, smokers, suffer from respiratory illness, or have other underlying medical conditions like diabetes, HIV, or cancer. Initial symptoms can present as coughing, fever, chills, shortness of breath, headache, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, muscle pain, and mental confusion. If you live in or have visited Anaheim recently, you should seek medical attention if you develop these symptoms.