Did the Flint Water Crisis Also Lead to a Fatal Outbreak of Legionnaires’ Disease?

By Yessenia Funes Jul 11, 2016

By now, most people understand that changes to the water supply of Flint, Michigan, increased water lead levels. But the city also saw an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease between  2014 and 2015.

Last week, Wayne State University was awarded a $3.1 million grant to begin an 18-month study to determine if the water crisis caused the outbreak of the severe pneumonia, according to the Detroit News. The study will include more than 850 homes.

Legionnaires’ disease is caused legionella, a bacteria in some streams and lakes that can grow and spread in water systems. 

This comes at the heels of this year’s first case in Genesee County, where Flint is located. So far, the individual doesn’t appear to have been exposed within the city.

Throughout 2014 to 2015, Genesee County confirmed 91 cases 12 of which ended in death.

Flint government e-mails released February 2016 showed that state officials held early suspicions that the city’s switch to cheaper Flint River water was linked to the Legionnaires’ outbreak at least 10 months before Gov. Rick Snyder announced the the possible linkage in January 2016.