Testimony: Legionnaires’ killed 1, related to 2nd death

Leonard N. Fleming

Flint – A renowned cardiologist from Metro Detroit testified Friday that Legionnaires’ disease was the cause of death of one man – “no question” – and was related to the death of another in 2015.

Dr. Joel Kahn made the comments under cross-examination in the criminal preliminary hearing for state Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon.

Flint water tower

Kahn, a clinical professor of medicine at Wayne State University who has been published nationally, said John Snyder, 83, of Flint, died of Legionella for certain as the disease rapidly hurt his quality of life despite other existing health issues.

Kahn had also testified again that the Legionella bacteria was “a cause” in the death of Robert Skidmore in December 2015.

Lyon is charged with involuntary manslaughter and misconduct in office connected to the 2014-15 Legionnaires’ outbreak that killed at least 12 people and sickened another 79 people in the Flint area. Republican Gov. Rick Snyder did not declare a public warning about the cases until mid-January 2016.

Under cross-examination, Kahn said that he did not know rheumatoid arthritis, which John Snyder suffered from among other ailments, could prompt a false positive Legionella result. But Kahn reiterated his contention that Snyder died due to a Legionella pathogen.

Now on the stand is John Henry, a Genesee County Health Department official who was at odds with Lyon’s Health and Human Services department over the Legionella outbreak.


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