Three dead in Argentina from bilateral pneumonia of unknown origin
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An outbreak of bilateral pneumonia of unknown origin has so far infected nine people in northern Argentina, of whom three have died and two are hospitalized in serious condition. The health authorities of the South American country have ruled out that it is covid-19 and the flu, among other viruses, and they still have not found what caused the infections in a private sanatorium in the province of Tucumán. One of the hypotheses being considered now is that it is a bacterial outbreak.
The victim who died this Thursday is a 70-year-old patient who underwent surgery at the Luz Médica Sanatorium in San Miguel de Tucumán. Her death was added to that of a 68-year-old doctor and a 45-year-old nurse with comorbidities.
According to the Tucuman Minister of Public Health, Luis Medina Ruiz, the last deceased could be “patient zero.” She began to show symptoms as of August 18, like five other employees of the sanatorium, of whom two are hospitalized, in serious condition and with mechanical ventilation.
“Most of the patients began with vomiting, high fever, diarrhea, and body pain, with the evolution that in some patients was more complex,” explained Medina Ruiz at a press conference.
Three other workers are under observation after starting to show symptoms days later. “One of them is 40 years old and is hospitalized. She is a pharmacy officer and has a fever with bilateral pneumonia. Another person is a 44-year-old nurse, who is at her home. There is a 30-year-old male nurse with comorbidities. This patient was hospitalized today,” added the provincial minister.
Health authorities await the results of the samples sent to the main infectious disease research institute in Argentina, Malbrán, to confirm the etiology of the outbreak. One of the hypotheses is that they have become ill from a bacterium called legionellapneumophila, that causes legionellosis or legionnaire’s disease, through the water distribution system.
“If the original bacterium was called Legionella, we are talking about a known disease, the bacterium lives in the water and resists extreme temperatures. It can be mild or in some patients severe. I don’t know how it spreads from person to person,” said former Minister of Health Pablo Yedlin. Still, experts are cautious and ask to wait for the results of the analysis, which is expected to be released tomorrow, Friday.
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