Canine To Five

Two dogs in the Flint area have tested positive for lead toxicity, the first cases in five years, the Detroit Free Press reported.

According to state veterinarian Dr. James Averill, the dogs, from surrounding Genesee County, are still alive. They are both cross-breeds; one was a pet, the other a stray. Averill did not disclose whether they were drinking Flint water, how much lead was in their systems, nor what symptoms they were showing.

But he told the Free Press lead toxicity can hurt the brain and blood, and occasionally cause digestive and kidney issues in the animals.

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The state is in contact with area veterinarians, and the "vast majority" of tests for lead in dogs has been negative, Averill said.

Meanwhile, emails obtained by the Free Press show state and local officials haggling for months over how to react to an apparent outbreak of Legionnaire's disease, delaying the response to the lead crisis.

“We are very concerned about this Legionnaires’ disease outbreak,” Laurel Garrison of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, wrote to Genesee County health officials in an April 27, 2015, email. “It’s very large, one of the largest we know of in the past decade, and community-wide, and in our opinion and experience it needs a comprehensive investigation.”

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Garrison added in her email that ”I know you’ve run into issues getting information you’ve requested from the city water authority and the MI Dept of Environmental Quality. Again, not knowing the full extent of your investigation it’s difficult to make recommendations, and it may be difficult for us to provide the kind of detailed input needed for such an extensive outbreak from afar.”

There were at least 87 Legionnaire's cases across Genesee County during a 17-month period, including nine deaths, but the public was never told about the increase when it was happening, the Free Press said.

Rob covers business, economics and the environment for Fusion. He previously worked at Business Insider. He grew up in Chicago.