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Investigation made public in possible connection of increase of Legionnaires' disease and water crisis

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GENESEE COUNTY, MI (WNEM) -

On Wednesday afternoon, another bomb dropped on a city already in peril.

State leaders said Flint's water system could have spread a deadly disease.

Gov. Rick Snyder and the state's top health officials said there's been a spike of Legionnaires’ disease in Genesee County.

"That just adds to the disaster we're already facing," Snyder said.

In the last year and a half, 10 people have died.

The bacteria can cause respiratory problems and can lead to pneumonia. It generally affects the older population.

Dr. Eden Wells of the Department of Health and Human Services said it's important to put out this alert because there could, key word could, be a correlation.

"We have no evidence at this time that this particular infection or outbreak that has occurred and peaked again last fall is an ongoing issue that we that know, but also there's no evidence of community-based transmission," said Dr. Eden Wells, Dept. of Health and Human Services.

The spike coincides with the timing of the water switch from Detroit to the Flint River.

Mark Valacak is the director of the Genesee County Health Department and said not everyone was exposed to Flint's city water supply. But in nearly half the cases, they visited Flint-area hospitals and health facilities.

"We want to continue to study the problem to see if we can identify sources," Valacak said.

And that could be hard to do.

"It requires a lot of research to see whether or not there's a direct connection to the water supply, and to the cases that we see," Valacak said.

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