Bacterial Disease Plagues Flint Because People Can't Trust The Water

Cierra Bailey
Flint, Michigan residents are facing one problem after another as their water contamination problem has led to a bacterial disease outbreak.


As the Flint water crisis has slowly trickled out of the spotlight, the reduced attention has allowed government officials to continue taking its time to rectify the issue.

This means that problems for residents of Flint, Michigan are only getting worse. Since high levels of lead were discovered in the city’s water supply nearly two years ago, people have resorted to using only filtered or bottled water for all of their needs.

Read More: Six Michigan Employees Charged Over Flint Water Crisis

Those with limited or no access to bottled and filtered water have turned to altering their hygiene routines, which includes bathing less and not washing their hands.

“People aren’t bathing because they’re scared,” said Jim Henry, Genesee County's environmental health supervisor. “Some people have mentioned that they’re not going to expose their children to the water again. But baby wipes are not effective, they’re not chlorinated, it doesn’t kill the bacteria, and it doesn’t replace hand-washing. People have changed their behavior regarding personal hygiene. They’re scared.”

As a result, the bacterial disease, Shigellosis, has begun to spread. Approximately 84 cases of the disease had been reported in Genesee County with about 53 of them coming from in or around Flint, according to CNN.

Shigellosis can cause fever, severe abdominal pain, and diarrhea, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Symptoms can typically resolve after five to seven days without antibiotic treatment, but the disease is highly contagious.

The youngest person diagnosed in the county was reportedly just 17 months old.

Even residents who have filters on their faucets and shower heads are still very weary of using the water because there were so many cases of people getting rashes and losing their hair over the last two years.

“With the kids, we use baby wipes," said Delano Whidbee, a Flint father of two. Their family has filters, but still tries to limit their exposure to the water, CNN reports.

Furthermore, people with filters aren’t running hot water through them out of fear that it will decrease the life of the filter, even though hot water is necessary to kill germs.

Now county officials, the state health department, and the CDC are working to combat the spread of Shigellosis, however, the disease is just an unfortunate side effect of the bigger issue that is not being properly addressed.

Something needs to be done about the water system. Money has been cited as an obstacle for the city’s pipes to be replaced, but money is needed, regardless, to remedy all of the additional problems spawning from the original issue.

In the long run, nothing is going to get better for Flint without new pipes. 


Read More: Officials Simply Ignored Flint’s Water Issues, Blocked Investigation

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