Residents from Flint, Michigan, are facing a new outbreak that’s threatening their health and exposing them to dangerous diseases. Health officials have reported dozens of Shigellosis cases among city residents. The disease spreads easily among people, and its primary cause is poor hygiene.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Shigellosis is a bacterial disease that causes patients to develop high diarrhea cases, suffer from fever and have stomach cramps for almost a whole week. Even though, some people don’t show symptoms they are capable of passing the bacteria to others.
The primary form of avoiding Shigellosis is by having proper hygiene methods, and according to the CDC, there are over 500,000 cases of the diseases in the country every year.
Flint residents have been struggling with their health for the past two years after a severe case of contaminated water caused citizens to develop rashes, allergies, lose their hair and exposed children to high lead levels in their blood. Since the initial exposure, people don’t trust the city’s water source.
“People aren’t bathing because they’re scared. Some people have mentioned that they’re not going to expose their children to the water again,” said Jim Henry, Genesee County’s environmental health supervisor to CNN News.
An on-going crisis
The infected water case left Flint residents concerned about their water supply and the diseases it might be carrying. Despite having water filters installed in all of their houses, citizens are not trusting the water and have diminished their hygiene habits.
“It’s very easy to transmit person to person, or through food. If people aren’t washing their hands, it runs through the whole county,” said Henry.
Children are the primary concern when it comes to health issues after the increment of lead levels among young kids exposed to contaminated water. Concerned parents have sued the state and the city for lead poisoning their young children, increasing the social costs of the scandal up to $393 million according to the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.
Water concerns have caused parents to use different hygiene methods on their children like boiling water, avoiding pools and using free baby wipes they find at the bottled water distribution center placed in the city.
“Baby wipes are not effective, they’re not chlorinated, it doesn’t kill the bacteria, and it doesn’t replace handwashing. People have changed their behavior regarding personal hygiene. They’re scared,” informed the health supervisor, Jim Henry, to CNN News.
The most recent case of Shigellosis in the city is from a 17-month old baby.
Poor hygiene has caused Flint citizens to start another disease outbreak in the city, according to data from the Michigan Department of Health, obtained by CNN News, Flint is now facing the highest numbers of Shigellosis in the state and is the second-largest case in the whole country.
So far, 84 cases have been reported in the Genessee County, and 53 have been confirmed outside city limits, with 27 patients hospitalized due ti the bacterial infection. Shigellosis cases have turned into an outbreak due to the constant contact between people in and outside the city.
The recent outbreak has caused Flint residents to be more concerned about their water supply source and about the dangers that it presents, contributing to the local crisis and damaging citizen’s health.
What happened to Flint’s water source?
The water crisis in the city goes back to April 2014 when the city’s authorities, facing economic troubles, decided to cut their water supply from the Detroit System and use their River as their primary water source.
Residents immediately started to complain about the water color and taste, a few months later investigations concluded that the river’s water was too corrosive for the water pipes and caused lead to leach from them.
An excess of lead in the blood is considered poisonous and damaging to a patient’s health, especially when it comes to young children. However, this was the case for young people in Flint with over 8,000 children being infected by lead on their blood and starting a Legionnaire’s disease outbreak.
The outbreak in the city turned into a social media and lawsuit scandal with thousands of parents sending lawsuits to the state due to their children’s damaged health. The governor of the state, Rick Snyder, was pointed as guilty by citizens as they asked him to quit.
Snyder has defined the water crisis in Flint as his “own personal hurricane Katrina.”