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Flint's chief public health adviser urges residents to cooperate with Shigella probe

Oct 15, 2016

Flint residents are being urged to cooperate with an investigation into disease outbreak that may or may not be connected to the city’s water crisis.

Since March 1, more than 130 people in Genesee and Saginaw counties have fallen sick with an illness called Shigellosis. The disease causes bloody diarrhea and abdominal pain, but has not been linked to any fatalities.

Many Flint residents have significantly reduced their use of the city’s tap water. Health officials are concerned changing hygiene habits may have contributed to the spread of Shigella bacteria. There are also concerns that a lack of consistent hand washing may help with the spread cold and flu germs this fall and winter.  

The federal Centers for Disease Control is working with state and local health officials to determine the source of the outbreak.

Flint’s new chief public health adviser Dr. Pamela Pugh says Flint residents need to cooperate with federal, state, and local investigators.

“We know we’re going to need their participation to really better understand this disease that’s in the community,” says Pugh.

The Shigella outbreak is just the latest health issue to arise in Flint since the city’s drinking water source was switched to the Flint River in 2014.

A Legionnaires' Disease outbreak from 2014 to 2015 killed 12 people and sickened dozens of others. Health officials stop short of blaming the outbreak on improperly treated Flint River water. But a special prosecutor claims there is a connection to the Flint River.