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Expert: More Deaths May Be Tied to Flint Legionella Outbreak Than Reported

Flint Legionella Child Lead PoisoningAn infectious disease specialist testified Thursday that he believed an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease stemmed from the change in Flint’s water source.

Dr. Marcus Zervos, division head of infectious disease for Henry Ford Health System, took the witness stand Thursday in a Flint courtroom and testified against the highest-ranking government official to face criminal charges in the Flint water crisis.

“My opinion is the most plausible, most likely explanation, is that the change in the water was responsible for an increase in Legionnaires' disease cases,” Zervos said before Genesee District Judge David J. Goggins' packed courtroom.

Legionnaires' disease is a potentially fatal type of pneumonia or lung infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to MLive Media Group, approximately one in every 10 cases of the disease proves to be fatal, but the mortality rate can rise to over 50 percent in patients with compromised immune systems, Zervos said.

"That's why I say it's likely more than 12 actually died from the outbreak," said Zervos, according to

According to the Detroit Free Press, Zervos' testimony came during the first day of the preliminary examination for Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon. The hearing will determine if there is enough evidence for the case to proceed to trial.

Lyon, who faces involuntary manslaughter and misconduct in office, is accused of causing the death of an 85-year-old man, who was diagnosed with Legionnaires' disease in 2015, the Free Press reports. Robert Skidmore died six months later of "end-stage congestive heart failure,” according to his death certificate.

Neither Legionnaires' disease nor legionella is listed on the county's record of Skidmore's death, reports.

"I said, 'If we didn't get started soon, people would lose their lives,'" Zervos testified.

"And what did Mr. Lyon say?" asked Special Prosecutor Todd Flood.

"He said that, 'People were going to die of something,'" Zervos testified, saying the director's response upset him.

Prosecutors showed on charts in court a spike in legionella bacteria in Flint's water was seen as early as June 2014 -- two months after Flint switched its water source from Detroit water to the more-corrosive Flint River water.

Zervos has not yet been cross-examined by Lyon’s attorneys.

Zervos, who has worked with the state on the Legionella outbreak, explained that according to the state's public health criteria, Legionnaires' must only be listed as a cause of death of a person if they die from contracting the bacteria during hospitalization or 30 days after being discharged.

Child Lead Poisoning Injuries

Lead poisoning in children can lead to very serious consequences. Many of these conditions can be remain with the child for the rest of his or her life.

  • Loss of IQ points
  • Learning disabilities
  • Speech problems
  • Developmental delays
  • Loss of learning capacity
  • Hyperactivity and attention disorder (ADHD)
  • Delinquent and criminal behavior
  • Brain damage
  • Wrongful death

The injuries caused by lead poisoning prevent many children from reaching their full intellectual and earning potential. These children often need special education services for many years. As a result, the damages suffered by a lead poisoned child are significant.  We have won large lead poisoning settlements throughout Michigan and Ohio for children and their parents.

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Our legal team includes the most successful child lead poisoning attorneys in Michigan. Buckfire & Buckfire, P.C. and our lawyers have won the top awards in the legal profession, including:

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Our No-Fee Promise For Michigan Child Lead Poisoning Cases

We will represent you in your lead poisoning case under our  no-fee promise. This means that you will not be charged any legal fees whatsoever unless we obtain a settlement or recovery for you.

You have absolutely no obligation for legal fees unless we win your case.  If we do not obtain a settlement for you, you owe us nothing.

Contact a Leading Michigan Lead Poisoning Lawyer

Parents of children injured in an accident should contact the Michigan child injury lawyers of  Buckfire & Buckfire, P.C. 

We will begin gathering the witness statements and evidence to prove and win your case. Call us now at 1-888-797-8787 to speak with one of our experienced Michigan lead poisoning lawyers. 

We operate under a strict No Fee Promise, which means you will not owe us anything unless we are able to reach a settlement or jury verdict for your case. There is absolutely nothing to lose so do not hesitate. Call today to speak with an attorney about your child lead poisoning situation. 

Lawrence J. Buckfire
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