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A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Did Flint’s contaminated water cause deadly Legionnaires’ outbreaks?

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No one knows because no government agency has tested the water. (Michigan apparently has a terrible government that simply is not up to doing its job.) Lenny Bernstein and Brady Dennis report in the Washington Post:

Frustrated and desperate, Genesee County health official Jim Henry did not mince words as he demanded information from the city of Flint on a 2014 outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease that had sickened 45 people in Michigan, killing five of them.

In his March 2015 email, Henry noted his previous efforts, which included a Freedom of Information Act request, and warned that another outbreak could be coming as the warm summer months approached.

“The increase of the illnesses closely corresponds with the time frame of the switch to Flint River water,” he wrote. “The majority of the cases reside or have an association with the city. . . . This is rather glaring information and it needs to be looked into now.”

Yet a year later, despite a second outbreak and a total of 87 illnesses and nine deaths, no government agency has tested the water supply for the legionella bacteria that cause the infection, which flourished as the beleaguered city’s tap water was being poisoned by lead.

legionnairesCHART-v3

Without a scientifically proven match between the bacteria in the water and strains cultured from victims, it is impossible to determine whether the tainted water supply caused the deadly infections, officials have told the public.

That could complicate a special counsel’s efforts to assess criminal culpability for the fatalities and at least one lawsuit seeking damages — as well as efforts to protect the public from future outbreaks, experts said.

The county health department, two state agencies, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have offered a variety of reasons why Flint’s water has not been tested, at times pointing fingers at one another. A state health department spokeswoman noted that chlorine is being added to the water to kill bacteria, including legionella.

But three experts in the control of Legionnaires’ disease expressed varying degrees of surprise and dismay that testing still has not been done.

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

27 February 2016 at 6:53 pm

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