Flint hit with bacterial illness as residents avoid city water

Residents in Flint, Michigan, are hitting another problem related to the polluted water: because they are shunning using the water to wash their hands, there is an outbreak of shigellosis.

According to health department officials, the gastrointestinal disease has been occurring at a higher rate in that county than in any other county, with 85 cases just last week, according to data from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. The second highest county, Saginaw County, had just 49.

“Shigella cases are on the rise across Michigan,” the county health department statement said, noting that there were 454 cases so far this year, with 515 in 2015 and 309 in 2014.

The disease is transmitted when people accidentally inject fecal matter, which is more likely when people don’t wash their hands when preparing food. The symptoms include severe diarrhea, fever, nausea, vomiting, cramps and stools containing blood and mucus.

The residents of Flint have been loathe to trust the water coming from the taps after government officials switched the water source to the Flint River, leading to lead contamination in the water and causing a crisis that had repercussions nationwide. Even though the source was switched back, trust still remains low in the water and in the government in that area.