Eighth Legionnaires’ case reported in Genesee County

Jonathan Oosting
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

The tally of Legionnaires’ disease cases confirmed so far this year in Genesee County has risen to eight, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, which continues to fight a protective court order preventing it from investigating the new case or others.

Hurley Hospital in Flint reported the latest diagnosis through the state’s Disease Surveillance System electronic databases. The patient is a male, according to the state, which was not able to provide further information.

Health officials are trying to keep close tabs on the deadly disease this year after outbreaks the past two years that included 12 deaths from 91 diagnosed cases. The spikes generally overlapped with Flint’s use of river water between April 2014 and October 2015.

Protective orders granted as part of Attorney General Bill Schuette’s criminal probe of the Flint water contamination crisis have prohibited the state department from participating in recent health investigations of the Legionnaires’ cases, which are being led by the Genesee County Health Department in cooperation with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, directed by Gov. Rick Snyder, is challenging the protective orders, saying they conflict with its statutory responsibility to public safety. The Michigan Court of Appeals this week agreed to intervene in the Genesee County case and review the orders.

Corrine Miller, a former state epidemiologist previously charged by Schuette, accepted a plea deal on Wednesday. Special Assistant Attorney General Todd Flood suggested she could help provide information about the department’s response to the Legionnaires’ outbreak and implications of failing to provide “proper notice” to the public.