The Growing Impact of Legionella in the Flint Water Crisis

J Natl Black Nurses Assoc. 2018 Jul;29(1):44-50.


The water crisis in Flint, Michigan raised national awareness about lead- tainted drinking water, particularly its harm to children and pregnant and lactating women. However, according to recent findings, there may be another by-product of this man-made crisis. Failure to use anticorrosive material in the water, a practice mandated by the 1978 Clean Water Act, is being linked to an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease, an illness detrimental primarily to adults over 65 years of age. While Legionnaires' disease is relatively rare, it is also likely to remain undiagnosed. Clinicians, therefore, are urged to consider this diagnosis in adults with pneumonia that does not respond to typical antibiotic treatment, and in newborns with respiratory distress along with other non-typical symptoms as well as those who have had water births or who were exposed to ultrasonic, cool-mist humidification.

Keywords: Flint water crisis; Legionnaires’ disease; Maternity; newborn.

MeSH terms

  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Disease Outbreaks*
  • Humans
  • Legionnaires' Disease / diagnosis
  • Legionnaires' Disease / epidemiology*
  • Michigan / epidemiology
  • Water Supply / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Water Supply / standards