For over a year, the Flint Water Crisis has plagued the people of the Michigan city, and some residents remain petrified of washing their hands. But new reports indicate the city could be susceptible to a new infectious bacterial disease, Shigellosis, because of these fears, as reported by CNN.
The water situation in the city is one that has consumed it for more than two years. High levels of lead were discovered in the local water supply in 2014, which caused people to develop rashes and even hair loss. Residents, who are still only using filtered or bottled water because of the lead in the water pipes, resorted to bathing less and stopped washing their hands. This anxiety towards using the water has created a new problem, for Shigellosis thrives when people don’t wash their hands. Genesee County’s environmental health supervisor Jim Henry told CNN the panic of coming into contact with water is changing residents’ hygiene habits, with some going as far as using baby wipes instead of bathing:
“People aren’t bathing because they’re scared. Some people have mentioned that they’re not going to expose their children to the water again. But baby wipes are not effective, they’re not chlorinated, it doesn’t kill the bacteria, and it doesn’t replace handwashing. People have changed their behavior regarding personal hygiene. They’re scared.”
Shigellosis is an infectious bacterial disease that can cause abdominal pain and diarrhea, but can usually be resolved in five to seven days if not treated with antibiotics, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CNN reported 84 cases had been reported in Genesee County, with at least 53 of those coming from the Flint city limits. And making matters all the more terrifying, CNN said a 17-month-old has been diagnosed with the disease. Things only appear to be getting worse for the city of Flint, as the water crisis has caused nothing but problems and the government has dragged its feet in remedying the crisis.