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Flint Water Crisis: Residents Now Face a Shigellosis Outbreak

Getty Images,  Bill Pugliano
Getty Images, Bill Pugliano

When Janelle Monaé and others played a benefit concert, #JusticeForFlint, in Flint, Mich. earlier this year to help with the city’s water crises, she probably didn’t know that locals would be facing another huge problem so soon.

According to CNN, the Midwestern town is currently suffering from an outbreak of Shigellosis, a bacterial disease which causes intense stomach cramps, fever, diarrhea and other nasty symptoms. Its also highly contagious and spreads when people fail to wash their hands.

Sadly, Flint’s residents had to shift how they approach their personal hygiene due to a severe led problem in their water system two years ago. Since then, people have stopped bathing as frequently and no longer wash their hands as much, which has only added to their extremely difficult circumstances.

Instead, locals have been using baby wipes, which are freely handed out at places that distribute bottled water but the wipes don’t prevent bacteria from spreading, say officials.

“People aren’t bathing because they’re scared,” said the County’s Environmental Health Supervisor Jim Henry. “Some people have mentioned that they’re not going to expose their children to the water again.”

Some residents have turned to using baby wipes, but they aren’t effective in killing germs and bacteria.

“But baby wipes are not effective,” Henry emphasized. “They’re not chlorinated. It doesn’t kill the bacteria and it doesn’t replace hand-washing. People have changed their behavior regarding personal hygiene. They’re scared.”

Flint’s Shigellosis problem happens to be the second outbreak that locals have faced in two years, after they suffered from  Legionnaires’ disease in record numbers due to the water crisis. Fortunately, symptoms of the disease stop in five to seven days without the use of medication.

Janelle,— who joined a long list of celebrities in the #JusticeForFlint show in February — hasn’t commented on the recent news in Flint as of yet, nor has the organization that spearheaded the event, Blackout for Human Rights.

CNN later updated it’s story saying, a spokeswoman for the MDHHS said in a statement that it worked with the county on Shigellosis starting in May.

“It limited communication during a two-week period in August because of a protective order issued by the courts as part of the ongoing investigation into the Flint water crisis and the role the department is playing in it. It resumed information and assistance to the county at the end of August, it said,” CNN reported.

A statement provided to CNN said, “It is entirely irresponsible … to attempt to portray MDHHS’s efforts regarding the Genesee County shigellosis situation as somehow lacking. MDHHS has been fully engaged in this effort.”

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