Since the beginning of the week, four people have mysteriously died of pneumonia in Tucuman, in the northwest of Argentina. Deaths that puzzled the local medical community and also raised some concern about the origin of the disease.
The mystery has finally been lifted. The agent that caused the focus of bilateral pneumonia “is legionella”, declared the Minister of Health at a press conference in Tucuman on Saturday, adding that the precise type of legionella is being qualified. “There was never any question of an ‘unknown virus’, but rather that we had bilateral pneumonia of unknown origin”, she further underlined.
Eleven cases identified in total
Legionellosis is a serious pulmonary infection of bacterial origin, which can be contaminated by the respiratory route by inhaling contaminated water.
Four people have died since Monday, the latest on Saturday morning. But eleven cases in total have been identified, centered around a private clinic in Tucuman, the majority health staff at this clinic. Seven are still under treatment.
Examinations had ruled out Covid, flu, type A and B influenza, and hantavirus (transmitted by rodents) causes for these pneumonias and samples had been sent to the Malbran Institute in Buenos Aires, national reference for infectious diseases , of which the Minister gave the first results.