In Flint, Michigan, officials confirm at least 10 people have died from Legionnaires’ disease amid a surge in infections caused by the water-borne bacteria. The announcement of the uptick in infections and deaths over the last two years comes as Flint is already under a state of emergency over lead-poisoned water. The poisoning began after an unelected emergency manager appointed by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder switched the city’s water source to the corrosive Flint River in a bid to save money. Residents have reported lasting health impacts, including cognitive impairment. Governor Snyder, who is responsible for appointing Flint’s emergency manager, announced the increase in Legionnaires’ disease Wednesday.
Gov. Rick Snyder: “Over the course of 2014 and 2015, we saw a spike in Legionnaires’ disease within Genesee County. If you go back to the prior years, I believe the numbers for the preceding years before 2014, we had six cases, 11 cases, 13 cases and eight cases. In 2014, we had 45 cases. And then in 2015, there were 42 cases.”
Officials have stopped short of tying the uptick in Legionnaires’ cases to the water poisoning, citing a lack of evidence. This comes as the National Guard arrived in Flint to distribute clean water. Flint residents are calling for Governor Snyder’s resignation and arrest over the water crisis.