Flint’s New Crisis: Shigellosis Bacteria
It's not getting any better for the people of Flint are now fighting a new health threat that appears to be related to the city's water crisis.
The new threat is an infectious bacterial disease that spreads when people don't wash their hands. Health officials in Flint say people are afraid to use tap water so they're bathing less and refusing to wash their hands, using baby wipes instead.
But the county's environmental health supervisor says wipes don't kill the bacteria that can cause fever, stomach pain, and bloody diarrhea.
The bacterial infection has been identified as Shigellosis, which is cause by the Shilgella bacteria. There are about 500,000 cases in the United States every year. Already 84 cases have been confirmed in the Flint area, 53 in the city itself, 23 of those victims had to be hospitalized. All the cases from outside the city involve people who either work or used to work in Flint. Mnay of the victims are children, who have weakened immune systems.
This outbreak is in addition to increased incidents of Legionaire's Disease.
The Centers for Disease Control are working with the city and county government on a 'wash your hands' campaign, but they claim thay've been hampered by Michigan Health authorities.
“During the time that Michigan Department of Health and Human Services refused to communicate with us regarding Shigellosis, we had several more cases, which MDHHS knew about because they are reported” in the state system, Jim Henry of the Genesee County Health Department told WTKR News. Eventually, in September, the state health department began working with the county and CDC on Shigellosis and other diseases.
Dangerously high levels of lead turned up in Flint's water last year because of contamination from old pipes in the water system.