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“This is a 64-year-old man with comorbidities who was hospitalized in a serious condition in the public sector,” the provincial authorities said in a statement.
Until the last update of this report, the total number of infected patients had reached 11 (see the chronology of diagnoses at the end of this report). Symptoms include fever, muscle and abdominal pain, diarrhea and shortness of breath.
The Instituto Malbrán’s public laboratory for infectious diseases identified legionella as “the etiologic agent causing the outbreak of bilateral pneumonia [que atinge os dois pulmões]”, revealed this Saturday (3) the Minister of Health of Argentina, Carla Vizzotti.
“We are typing the specific type of bacteria, but it is possible that it is [legionella] pneumophila,” Vizzotti said. Of the 11 infected in the outbreak reported on Aug. 18, eight were healthcare workers at the clinic.
Found in freshwater environments such as lakes and streams, this bacteria can spread through water pipes and air conditioning ducts. It causes legionnaires’ disease, a rare and very serious type of pneumonia that causes fever and acute lung infection.
The cases are linked to the Luz Médica private clinic, in Tucumán, and mainly affected health professionals, according to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the regional office of the World Health Organization (WHO), which began monitoring the outbreak and to assist local authorities.
Before the confirmation that the cases were linked to legionella, Hector Sale, president of the faculty of medicine in the province of Tucumán, had declared: “we are not dealing with a disease that causes transmission from person to person”. According to him, the assessment is based on the fact that no cases were identified among close contacts of any of the patients.
From the first moment, Covid, influenza, influenza and hantavirus were ruled out as causes of the outbreak.
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This Saturday, the death of the fourth patient, a 48-year-old man who was hospitalized in serious condition, was reported.
Of the 11 infected, three are hospitalized, and another three are “under home care”, said Luis Medina Cruz, head of the Health Ministry in the province of Tucumã, which is 1,300 kilometers north of Buenos Aires.
The outbreak took place at a private clinic 1,300 kilometers north of Buenos Aires. The patients, mostly health professionals, manifested their first symptoms on August 18.
View the chronology of diagnoses:
- The first patients showed symptoms between August 18 and 22.
- On August 30, an initial report included five health workers and a clinic patient among the infected.
- On September 1, local health officials reported three more cases, bringing the total to nine.
- On September 3, Argentina reported the tenth infected patient, later raised to 11, according to local media.
According to local newspapers in Tucumán, the first test results sent to the Instituto Nacional de Microbiologia Dr. Malbrán had already tested positive for legionella. At the same time, experts analyzed the water and air conditioning units to identify possible contamination or poisoning.
Before the confirmation that legionella caused the disease, Michael Osterholm, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Minnesota in the US, said that since the patients’ lungs were heavily attacked, the cause was likely linked to something the infected inhaled.
According to him, “mysterious diseases”, most of the time, can be explained by some local outbreak without pandemic implications.