Legionella bacteria detected in Flint homes

A research team from Wayne State University in Detroit detected Legionella bacteria in several homes in Flint, Mich., according to The Detroit News. The scientists discovered the bacteria while searching for the source of the 2014-2015 Legionniares' outbreak that sickened nearly 100 and killed more than 10.

The researchers found the bacteria in a "small number" of homes tested in September. The team has reportedly conducted tests at approximately one-third of the 284 homes it plans to investigate. Additionally, researchers found lower than recommended levels of bacteria-killing chlorine in about 20 percent of the homes.

Shawn McElmurry, PhD, an associate professor at Wayne State, is leading the study. Dr. McElmurry told the Detroit News he'd like to compare the samples he's gathered with samples the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services collected during the outbreak. He has discussed the potential comparison with health officials.

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"I don't see why they would not share that with us," said Dr. McElmurry.

In February, the Detroit News reported Michigan's Department of Environmental Quality and the MDHHS considered testing water samples from Flint, but failed to do so, even though the community's water supply was identified as the likely source of the outbreak. State officials previously stated a source for the outbreak couldn't be determined because no samples from the sickened patients were taken to compare to Flint's water. Another investigation by the paper revealed a state laboratory produced 12 clinical isolates from Legionnaires' patients in Flint, which the state never compared to the Legionella in the city's water supply.

According to Wednesday's article, Jennifer Eisner, a spokeswoman for the MDHHS, told Detroit News the department "has not received a study protocol from Wayne State University requesting those isolates."

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