LANSING -- The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is demanding more answers and information from McLaren Flint, expressing concern the hospital or a consultant may have destroyed internal water system testing samples related to an initial regional outbreak of deadly Legionnaires’ disease, according to the Detroit News.
In a letter Monday, the department questioned whether McLaren withheld or destroyed bacterial cultures, called isolates, collected during testing of the hospital water system. McLaren strongly denied the suggestion in Wednesday emails to The Detroit News.
It's the latest public skirmish over who is to blame for an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in the Flint area that began soon after the city switched its water source to the Flint River in April 2014 as a money-saving measure. Flint previously used Lake Huron water drawn from the Detroit water system.
The state health department two weeks ago ordered McLaren to "immediately correct conditions" in its facility to reduce the risk of future exposure to Legionella after two hospital-associated cases in 2016.
Previous outbreaks, which many experts have linked to the larger Flint water contamination crisis, killed 12 Genesee County residents and sickened 91 during the summers of 2014 and 2015. The state says McLaren was associated with 40 of those cases and notes a hired consultant told the hospital in late 2014 that its internal water system was "likely" contributing to Legionella issues.
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