Legionnaire's disease spike in Genesee County

Posted at 4:02 PM, Jan 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-14 08:33:31-05

There was a major spike in the number of cases of Legionnaire's Disease in Genesee County in 2014 and 2015 compared to recent years.

Governor Rick Snyder released the numbers during a press conference Wednesday afternoon. He says it's not clear if the increase is connected to the contaminated water in Flint. The spike in Legionnaire's cases happened around the same time the city disconnected from the Detroit water system and started drawing from the Flint River.

Legionnaires' disease is a type of pneumonia caused by legionella bacteria. People are exposed to the bacteria when they breathe in a water mist or vapor that contains the bacteria. Less commonly, it can be transmitted if drinking water is aspirated.

There were 45 diagnosed cases in Genesee County in 2014 and 42 cases in 2015. There were only six cases diagnosed in the county in 2013.

Gov. Snyder says public health officials from Genesee County, the state of Michigan, the EPA and the CDC are investigating. Their investigation should be completed in time to make recommendations for the summer when the disease typically peaks.

The Governor said he found out about the issue within the last few days, and felt he needed to bring it to light.