Cause of pneumonia cluster in Argentina identified as Legionella


A cluster of pneumonia cases in Tucumán, Argentina, was caused by Legionella, the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease, the Pan American Health Organization has said.

As of Saturday, a total of 11 cases of pneumonia had been identified in the outbreak associated with a health clinic in the city of San Miguel de Tucumán, including four deaths in patients with underlying health conditions, said indicated the organization.

The organization said on Saturday it was informed by Argentina’s health ministry that legionella was the cause, and authorities added that they are currently investigating the source.

The ministry is “collecting environmental samples, conducting risk assessments and implementing actions in the health clinic related to the outbreak,” the update said. “PAHO is providing support to Argentine health authorities from its headquarters and the PAHO Country Office in Argentina to investigate and characterize the outbreak.”

Legionnaires’ disease is a severe form of pneumonia caused by Legionella bacteria. People can get sick when they breathe in small water droplets containing the bacteria, causing infection in the lungs. The disease can be treated with antibiotics.

Bacteria can appear in shower heads and faucets, hot tubs, cooling towers, hot water tanks, decorative fountains, or plumbing systems in large buildings.

Some health workers at the clinic began showing symptoms between August 18 and 22, Argentina’s national health ministry said in an earlier press release.

San Miguel de Tucumán is the capital of the agricultural province of Tucumán in northwestern Argentina.

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