Michigan reports 10th fatal case of Legionnaires' disease in Flint area

FLINT, Mich. – Michigan health officials have found a 10th fatal case of Legionnaires' disease in the Flint area amid an outbreak some experts have linked to the city's water crisis.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) said Friday the death last year is now among 88 cases of the respiratory disease detected between June 2014 and November 2015.

“To date, 88 cases and ten deaths have been identified in total for the 2014 and 2015 outbreaks in Genesee County,” said Eden Wells, M.D., chief medical executive with the MDHHS. “While legionellosis is not uncommon, it’s important that any person who is having symptoms of respiratory illness let their doctor know right away.”

No definitive link has been made, but some researchers believe the source of the Legionella bacteria is the Flint River, which the city began using as its water source in April 2014. Flint now is dealing with lead-contaminated water.

Officials say the person who died wasn't a Genesee County resident but was being treated at a local hospital when he or she developed symptoms of the disease, which can cause pneumonia.

About Legionella, from MDHHS: 

Legionella is a type of bacteria commonly found in the environment that grows best in warm water, such as hot tubs, cooling towers, potable water systems, and decorative fountains. When people are exposed to the bacteria, it can cause legionellosis, a respiratory disease that can infect the lungs and cause pneumonia. The bacteria can also cause a less serious infection called Pontiac fever. Legionella is not transmitted person to person.