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Death toll rises in Genesee County Legionnaires' disease outbreak

Apr 11, 2016

State officials are now confirming 12 people died in a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in Genesee County.

Credit steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services released the updated numbers today. 

In all, 91 cases of Legionnaires' disease have been confirmed in Genesee County in 2014 and 2015.    Three new cases, including two fatalities have been added to the list. State officials cite clerical reasons why the cases were not included in the original group earlier this year.    

The source of the outbreak is believed to be the Flint River, although that has not yet been confirmed.   About 55% of the cases can be connected to a Flint hospital. 

“We remain vigilant in identifying any potential case associated with the outbreak,” says Eden Wells, Chief Medical Executive with the MDHHS.

Legionella bacteria is common in the environment. When people are exposed to the bacteria, it can cause legionellosis, a respiratory disease that can infect the lungs and cause pneumonia.