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Flint's water crisis turns into bloody bacterial disease outbreak from lack of showering, washing hands


(NaturalNews) The tainted water crisis in Flint, MI., has gone from monumentally bad – to monumentally worse.

CNN is reporting that health officials have discovered an infectious bacterial disease known as Shigellosis, which is capable of producing bloody diarrhea and fever, and is spread by poor hygiene and lack of hand-washing. County health officials told the news network that is precisely what is taking place now.

The bacterial outbreak comes on the heels of a two-year nightmarish ordeal over lead-tainted drinking water. As Natural News reported, after dangerously high levels of lead were discovered in the water, people began to experience strange and unexpected symptoms. During the period between April 2014 and October 2015, when the city switched to using the grossly polluted and corrosive Flint River to supply the city's drinking water, is when residents began developing painful rashes and cases of alopecia – a condition that causes hair loss.

'People aren't bathing because they're scared'

But that wasn't all. In addition to these developments, the area began experiencing a dramatic uptick in Legionnaire's disease, nine of whom died. One county health director believes the deaths could have been prevented but state and federal health officials failed to act.

Today, Flint residents are still skittish and mistrustful of their water. They are still forced to use either properly filtered water or bottled water because of damaged water pipes in the city. They are bathing less and, unfortunately, refusing to wash their hands as well.

"People aren't bathing because they're scared," Jim Henry, Genesee County's environmental health supervisor told CNN. "Some people have mentioned that they're not going to expose their children to the water again."

In place of water, he said, more people are using baby wipes which they can obtain at no cost at centers distributing free bottled water. However, Henry said, baby wipes are not at all effective because they're not designed to kill bacteria of the sort that is spreading and making people sick. The wipes certainly are no replacement for proper hand washing, he said.

"People have changed their behavior regarding personal hygiene," he said. "They're scared."

Caused by the Shigella bacteria, Shigellosis infection causes fever, diarrhea and abdominal pain. The diarrhea can sometimes lead to dehydration, especially in young children and older adults. While symptoms usually disappear in five to seven days without antibiotics, the disease is highly contagious, according to federal health agencies. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports there are about 500,000 cases of Shigellosis in the U.S. annually.

County health records that were obtained by CNN show that cases spiked in Genesee County in June 2016. They peaked at about five times the number of cases that have been observed during any period since October 2011.

Since the water crisis began the cases of Shigellosis have been steadily increasing, especially among children. Thus far, CNN said, the youngest child diagnosed with the infection was 17 months old.

Some things are too slow to change

A number of residents who spoke to the news network claimed they were afraid of touching or using Flint water because they got rashes in 2014 and 2015 - after state officials said the water was safe to use. Some try to limit their contact with the water, while others have installed filters on their showers and faucets. Still another resident said he travels every day to a relative's home outside the city to shower. And while hot water kills germs and bacteria, Henry said people are not running hot water through their faucets because they fear it will decrease the life of water filters.

What is being done to battle the infections?

Henry said the state and the CDC are now working with the country to battle Shigellosis. But like before, he also said initially he struggled to get information and cooperation from state public health officials.

Some things are too slow to change.





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