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As the easy access to running water has become a set fixture in our everyday life, it is hard to relate to the water paradox that residents are currently facing in Flint.
The Michigan situated Genesee county or more specifically its largest city, Flint, gained back in 2015 a bad reputation and sparked a nation-wide controversy as the city’s water supply was revealed to contain an unusually high level of lead.
As of 2016, government officials approved the water’s usage, but only after it has passed through certain filters. With the city’s plant still being questioned, and the 2015 event still clear in their minds, it is not a wonder that residents are hesitant when it comes to using the city’s water supply and as such are forgoing basic hygiene customs.
As people are reluctant to use tap water, they shy away from bathing or washing their hands and are trying to solve their cleaning issue by using bottled water or baby wipes. But their fear of lead infestation has led to another even greater problem.
The improper hygiene has favored the spread of Shigellosis, an infectious disease known to have been caused by the Shigella bacteria. The symptoms of the disease include, amongst others, abdominal pain, malaise, and tenesmus. The disease in itself is far from being uncommon, with almost half a million cases being reported every year, but its most serious risks stem from the fact that is highly contagious and has a high resistance to most usual antibiotics, thus requiring specialized medication.
Compared to past years’ numbers, the county has seen a significant increase in the number of Shigellosis infections and sports the state’s highest values, with 85 recorded patients with their nearest neighboring county, Saginaw, coming in second with 49 registered cases. The state has numbered 454 cases up to October 1st, a huge increase compared to past values, this year’s 9 months period already surpassing the 309 cases registered in 2014.
As residents have changed their behavior and washing habits, the water scare has determined them to continue to heavily rely on hand wipes. But it is quite an ineffective protection in the face of bacteria as the product is not chlorinated and thus doesn’t kill the unseen offenders.
It is hard to determine what the future holds for county locals as the water paradox that has encompassed them in 2015 seem far away from a solution.
What would the reader’s reaction be in the face of this water paradox?