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The state health department is investigating a case of Legionnaires' disease in a patient from a Flint hospital, a release by the department said Friday.

The case is part of a "cluster of cases reported in 2018 and 2019 with exposure histories that involve the hospital," the release by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services said.

The patient in the most recent exposure was treated at McLaren Flint Hospital for inpatient services and "had an illness onset" in the beginning of May, the health department said.

The search for a potential source of the Legionnaires' is ongoing, the health department said, and includes local, state and federal public health agencies and the hospital.

Legionnaires' is caused by Legionella bacteria that are naturally occurring in fresh water sources and is spread by droplets of water in the air small enough to breathe in. The disease causes a severe respiratory infection with symptoms including high fever, cough and findings consistent with pneumonia, the health department release said. Sources of the disease can emanate from cooling towers, decorative fountains, hot tubs and large building plumbing systems, the release said.

A seriousness outbreak of Legionella in Flint occurred in late 2014 and into January 2015 amid a contamination crisis involving lead in drinking water during a switch to Flint River water. Many of the cases, which included 12 deaths and 79 others who were sickened, originated at McLaren Flint Hospital.

Former state Health and Human Services director Nick  Lyon and former Chief Medical Executive Eden Wells face criminal charges related to the Legionnaires' outbreak.

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