Governor Rick Snyder told journalists on Thursday that the string of cases occurred from June 2014 to November 2015, while Flint was using the lead-poisoned water.
Legionnaire’s disease is a severe form of pneumonia that causes fevers, headaches, trouble breathing, and aching muscles. It is caused by a bacteria found naturally in water. The governor stopped short of saying that the cases were caused by the contaminated water supply for certain, but many suggest it’s the logical place to begin investigating.
The city is currently in a state of emergency, which was not declared until this month, despite officials knowing about the contamination as early as April 2015. The governor and other agencies are now under fire for not warning the public or making efforts sooner to stop the contamination.
The problem with Flint’s water began in April 2014, when the city stopped receiving its water from Detroit, instead shifting to water from the Flint River, which is known to have a high salt content. Corrosive salts in the water damaged the city’s pipes, which contain lead, causing that material to be released into the water.
In October, the state changed the city’s drinking water source back from the corrosive Flint River to the Detroit water system, but damage had already been done.
The effects of lead poisoning cannot be reversed. Researchers at the nearby Hurley Children’s Hospital have also identified a "rise in blood lead levels of children less than 5 years old" who live in the area.
Despite the change in the water supply, officials warn that the water in Flint remains unsafe safe to drink.
There are currently petitions circulating for the resignation, and even the arrest, of Snyder for his inaction in keeping the residents of Flint safe.