Officials Investigate Another Case Of Legionnaires' Disease Linked To McLaren Flint Hospital

May 11, 2019 - 12:55 pm

FLINT (WWJ) - The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is investigating another case of Legionnaires' Disease in Genesee County. 

The individual spent their exposure period as an inpatient at McLaren Flint Hospital and had an illness onset in the beginning of May 2019.

Health officials urge anyone who was at McLaren Flint Hospital in early May and came down with pneumonia-like symptoms should get checked for Legionnaires'. 

Legionnaires' Disease is a respiratory infection caused by breathing in a mist of fresh water contaminated by the bacteria. Symptoms of fever and cough are consistent with pneumonia. Time between exposure to the bacteria and onset of illness is two to 10 days. 

This is part of an ongoing investigation into a cluster of cases reported in 2018 and 2019 with exposure histories that involve the hospital. The identification of a potential source of these infections is ongoing and involves local, state, and federal public health agencies. In April, the health department said two cases of the disease reported within a six month period were both linked to the hospital.

The hospital was previously identified as a primary source of a Legionnaires' outbreak in 2014-2015 after the city's water system was contaminated during the Flint Water Crisis. Ninety people were sickened and 12 died.

Legionella bacteria are naturally occurring in fresh water sources. The organism can multiply in manmade water systems such as cooling towers, decorative fountains, hot tubs and large building plumbing systems. After Legionella grows and multiplies in a building water system, water containing Legionella can spread in droplets small enough for people to breathe in. People can get the disease when they breathe in small droplets of water in the air that contain the bacteria.

Individuals at higher risk include those who are age 50 or older; have a current or past smoking history; or have an underlying illness or condition such as chronic lung disease, kidney or liver failure, diabetes, systemic malignancies, or immune system disorders due to medications or disease. Recent travel and overnight stays in hospitals or other healthcare facilities can increase an individual’s risk for exposure.

If you are concerned about possible symptoms of pneumonia, contact your primary care provider.