Genesee County investigating death possibly linked to Legionnaires' disease | Michigan Radio

Genesee County investigating death possibly linked to Legionnaires' disease

Jun 6, 2019

Credit steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Genesee County health officials are reporting the county’s first possible death from Legionnaires' disease this year.

Legionnaires is a type of pneumonia that sometimes strikes people who are older, have a history of smoking, chronic lung disease or have poor immune function. Legionnaires' disease doesn't spread from person to person. Instead, the Legionella bacteria spreads through the air, often through contaminated ventilation systems in large buildings. 

So far this year, Genesee County has reported nine cases of Legionnaires. Officials are not releasing any information about the individual who died.    

According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, there have been 88 Legionnaires cases statewide in 2019, with 8 cases proving fatal.

More than 30 Michigan counties are reporting Legionnaires' disease cases in 2019. Oakland County is reporting the largest number of cases, 13, so far this year. 

During the Flint water crisis, in 2014 and 2015, Genesse County recorded a massive spike in cases, resulting in at least a dozen deaths.

The source of the Legionnaires' outbreak remains in dispute.

State health department officials have noted that more than half the patients had a connection to McLaren Hospital in Flint. On the other hand, scientific researchers have drawn a connection to the Flint River which was used as the city’s drinking water source during the Legionnaires' disease outbreak.