State releases new report on Legionnaires' outbreak in Flint - WNEM TV 5

State releases new report on Legionnaires' outbreak in Flint

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Source: CNN Source: CNN

Since the water crisis began the search for the source of a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak centered around the Flint water system.

A new report narrows down the only common link among the cases of the disease to one single source.

A review of Legionnaires’ cases in Genesee County by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services found the only common source for the outbreak was a health facility exposure at the McLaren Flint hospital.

The state said Flint’s water crisis, in all likelihood, was not the cause of the outbreak that killed 12 people between 2014 and 2015.

The state said it compiled data to track where the illness was coming from before and after the water switch in Flint. They said leading up to the outbreaks, the rate of Legionnaires’ cases had increased substantially nationwide by 286 percent from 2000 to 2014.

Officials said there was only one common source of Legionnaires’, and that was the McLaren Flint hospital.

The state said 65 percent of Legionnaires’ patients had hospital building exposure and of that number, 94 percent were at McLaren Flint.

There were 32 cases who did not have exposure at McLaren Flint, but only nine of them lived on Flint water.

The state said the number of cases was actually higher for people not living on Flint’s water system.

The report comes as the head of Michigan’s health department and the state’s chief medical officer are facing trial on charges relating to a Legionnaires’ related death in Flint.

McLaren released the following statement in regards to the state's report:

We find the timing of the state’s release today to be an interesting coincidence as the first phase of the criminal proceedings against MDHHS leadership winds down. Initial review of the report reveals no new information regarding our community’s epidemic of Legionnaires’ disease in 2014 and 2015, but reflects the state’s normal pattern of attempting to shift liability away from those criminally charged.

The state’s conclusions continue to be premised on a flawed methodology that:

  • fails to account for the significant number of Legionnaires’ Disease cases that had no affiliation with our hospital;
  • fails to account for potential exposure to legionella outside of the home or hospital setting – a myopic focus that distorts the analysis and deflects attention away from the municipal water system;
  • ignores the growing consensus among scientific researchers that the switch to the Flint River in April 2014 was the root cause and trigger of the dramatic increase in Legionnaires’ disease diagnoses in Genesee County in 2014 and 2015 – a conclusion that is reflected in peer-reviewed articles published in respected scientific journals.

Angela Minicuci, communications director for the MDHHS, said the report does account for exposures outside of the home. She issued the following statement in regards to McLaren's statement:

As I indicated, the Chart Book does indeed account for exposures outside of the home. Further, it’s unfortunate that this hospital system continues to ignore crucial details regarding the outbreak in Genesee County directly linked to their facility. Our report was released when it was completed. Due to difficulties caused by the Protective Order that McLaren Flint requested,subsequent data sharing issues, as well as new information that was gathered regarding the 2014 and 2015 cases, this review was not completed sooner.

The facts are very clear in this comprehensive analysis of the cases and do account for other sources that were identified during the case investigations. The fact remains that the only common source that has been identified that explains the majority of the increase in cases is McLaren Flint Hospital. Rather than shifting liability or even accusing McLaren Flint, we followed the evidence and remain committed to providing thoroughly vetted and accurate information on this issue.

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