The city of Flint, Mich., is reporting a higher rate of the occurrence of a respiratory disease called Legionnaire's disease. Some experts suggest that this may be related to the toxic drinking water that was being pumped to the city for the past two years.
Public officials in Flint said on Wednesday that it was not possible to make a causal connection between the city's water and the increased incidence of Legionnaire's disease. However, Michigan's governor Eric Snyder said that the new news about this disease has only added to the health disaster in the city, according to The Atlantic.
Between June 2014 and November 2015, Genesee County (within which the city of Flint is located), recorded a total of 87 cases of the Legionnaire's disease. In contrast, the county had recorded between six and 13 cases in the four years before that. Of the 87 that were reported in the past few months, 10 turned out to be fatal, according to the Washington Post.
Legionnaire's disease is caused by a bacterial infection and the symptoms that are seen usually include fever, pneumonia (causing respiratory and breathing problems) muscle ache and fever. Notably, in 5 to 30 percent of cases, the infection turns out to be fatal.
It would be difficult to say for sure that the Legionnaire's occurring in Flint is being caused by the toxic water, according to Dr. Marc Edwards, a researcher from Virginia Tech University who has been researching the technical and scientific aspects of the Flint water supply crisis. Nonetheless, "what's clear is that there is an association, which means that the increase of the Legionnaires increased pretty dramatically. And there is a strong likelihood that it is related to the water supply. We will never know for sure, but we did find very high levels (of the Legionnaire bacteria) in the time period when they were on the Flint River water," he said, according to CNN.