The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) recently published its 2015 Legionnaires’ Disease (LD) report, showing a rise in rates within Genesee County.
Between May and October, Genesee County detected 42 cases of LD. There were also four deaths that have been associated with the disease. Health professionals at the MDHHS have not determined whether the rise is because of the water change in Flint. They have not eliminated any potential associations between the disease rates and the water shift.
LD is because of a bacteria called Legionella. It typically grows in warm water, like cooling towers, hot tubs, potable water systems, hot water tanks and decorative fountains. Legionella causes a respiratory disease and pneumonia, called Legionellosis. In less serious cases, the disease causes Pontiac fever. Fortunately, Legionella cannot be transmitted between people.
“While cases of Legionnaires disease are not expected in the winter, we remain fully engaged with the Genesee County Health Department as well as our federal partners at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to protect the health of Flint residents,” Dr. Eden Wells, chief medical executive with the MDHHS, said. “We remain diligent in our efforts to proactively and appropriately address the potential for future cases.”