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Michigan health director charged with involuntary manslaughter due to Flint water woes

• By Kendra Pierre-Louis

Legionnaires' disease is a severe, often lethal form of pneumonia caused by contaminated water systems.


Nick Lyon, the head of the Michigan health department, has been charged with involuntary manslaughter as part of the ongoing Flint water crisis according to a report made today by the Associated Press. Lyon is accused of not notifying the public about an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease, which killed at least 12 people from 2014 to 2015. The outbreak is believed to have been caused, at least in part, by the ongoing water quality issues that have plagued the city since 2014—when the city's government switched the community's water source from Detroit water to the Flint River as part of a cost-cutting measure

Legionnaires' disease is a severe, often lethal form of pneumonia caused by the bacterium Legionella pneumophila. The disease gets its name from the first significant known outbreak, which took place at a 1976 convention of the American Legion in Philadelphia. Since 1976 there have been intermittent outbreaks, most traced to the mismanagement of complex water systems in large buildings like hotels, hospitals, and long-term care facilities. The Flint outbreak is unique in that it was the city's municipal water supply that was the trigger. 

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