Two More Deaths Linked to the Flint Water Crisis

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Toxins and Chemicals

In the wake of the Flint water crisis, two more deaths from Legionnaires’ disease have been confirmed, bringing the total up from 10 to 12. In 2014 and 2015, the state found 91 cases of this illness. It is believed that at least half of the cases are associated with the recent water crisis, though at this time they are still uncertain. [1] [2]

Eden Wells, M.D., Chief Medical Executive with the MDHHS, said:

“To date, 91 cases and 12 deaths have been identified in total for 2014 and 2015 in Genesee County. We remain vigilant in identifying any potential case associated with the outbreak.”

Although it is unconfirmed if the outbreak is related to the crisis in the water system, it is clear that those who developed the disease obtained it through some body of water. Legionnaires’ disease cannot be spread from person to person and instead festers in in warm water. It is often found in places like hot tubs, cooling towers, and water systems of bigger units like apartment buildings and hospitals. It can even be contracted from air conditioning units. Once someone inhales the bacteria, or the mist containing the bacteria, they may develop a serious respiratory infection and then potentially fatal pneumonia.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has stated that it is working diligently to determine the exact cause of these two new cases. However, documents that had been released in February suggest that officials were aware of the disease and had linked it to the water crisis as long as 10 months ago. This has led citizens around the country to develop distrust in their water supplies and health officials. [2]

The crisis in Flint began in April 2014 when, as a cost-saving measure, the state moved the source of its tap water from Detroit’s supply to the Flint River. The system was switched back to Detroit’s in October 2015 after the state noted that there were high levels of lead in many people’s blood, particularly in children’s. Lead is a toxic agent that can lead to severe health problems, including, but not limited to, permanent damage to the nervous system and even death.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has stated that it is working closely with nearby Wayne State University, the Genesee County Health Department and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to be more vigilant of cases of this disease in 2016. [1]


[1] CBS Detroit

[2] Reuters