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Is Legionnaires’ disease airborne? Here’s what we know about the illness that affected Disneyland

Hello Giggles logo Hello Giggles 3 days ago Erin Mayer
a girl taking a selfie: Is Legionnaires’ disease airborne? Here’s what we know about the illness that affected Disneyland © Oli Scarff/Getty Images Is Legionnaires’ disease airborne? Here’s what we know about the illness that affected Disneyland

You’ve probably seen “Legionnaires’ disease” popping up in the news this week, due to a recent rash of the illness at Disneyland in Anaheim, CA. If you have a trip planned to The Happiest Place on Earth coming up, you’re probably frantically googling the symptoms.

The good news? Your travel plans are probably safe. Disneyland addressed the problem and swiftly stopped operating the two cooling towers likely responsible for the outbreak. However, if you haven’t heard of the disease before, you might still have questions. For example: “Is Legionnaires’ disease airborne?”

Per the CDC, Legionella, the bacteria that causes the disease, is “found naturally in freshwater environments, like lakes and streams,” but is dangerous to humans “when it grows and spreads in human-made water systems.” The CDC lists showers, fountains, stagnant hot tubs, and cooling towers as possible breeding grounds.

People who breathe in tiny drops of the infected water are at risk for contracting Legionnaires. In short, the disease is airborne. Yet, the CDC also states that it’s not highly contagious among humans.

According to Mayo Clinic, Legionnaires’ is a type of pneumonia. While not everyone falls ill from contact with Legionella, the condition can be severe for people with already compromised immune systems. Mayo Clinic also reports that symptoms usually appear in as little as two, or as many as ten, days.

Ultimately, thanks to their swift response, chances are you’re good to hit up Disneyland in the near future without risk of infection.

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