FLINT (WJRT) - (04/20/17) - Health Officer Mark Valacak tells us stenotrophomonas maltophilia is an organism typically associated with respiratory tract infections.
It's not something you can just catch walking down the street. He says the people most at risk of contracting the organism are people who have been hospitalized and have weakened immune systems.
"It's most often associated as a respiratory tract infection, but it also could be a urinary tract infection. So you want to look at the common signs and symptoms are fever, can be coughing, difficulty breathing," Valacak said.
The infection could cause death, but Valacak says as long as the patient receives the right antibiotics, it can be treated.
Valacak says it's mainly common in hospital settings. There isn't hard data, but he says in talking with the three local hospitals in the county, the number of cases have been decreasing over the past five years.
The cases were highest in 2013, before the water source was switched to the Flint River.
"We're doing a lot of research to try and determine what, if any, concerns there might be about the potential for additional bacterial contamination of the water. So there are researchers in the community that are looking at this question," Valacak said.
Valacak says while there are a few cases right now, this is not a spike by any means. They just wanted to get the information out to clarify what's going around on social media.