The WHO monitors the outbreak of pneumonia in Tucumán and collaborates with the Argentine health authorities

The Ministry of Health of the northern province reported this afternoon that "a new patient linked to the conglomerate of cases of pneumonia of unknown origin was detected"

The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that it is monitoring the outbreak of bilateral pneumonia of unknown origin in the city of San Miguel de Tucumanwhich has already caused the death of three people, out of a total of 10 infected detected until today, and pointed out that it is collaborating with the Argentine health authorities.

The Ministry of Health from the northern province reported this afternoon that "A new patient linked to the conglomerate of cases of pneumonia of unknown origin was detected." Thus, 10 people were affected. "Is about An 81-year-old male patient with comorbidities hospitalized in serious conditionwith ARM (mechanical respiratory assistance), in the public sector”, he pointed out in an official report.

All cases are linked to the private clinic Medical Light, from San Miguel de Tucumán and started with symptoms between August 18 and 23. The three people who died had comorbidities. Is about a 68-year-old doctor, a 45-year-old nurse and a 70-year-old patient of that sanatorium.

All cases are linked to the private clinic Luz Médica
All cases are linked to the private clinic Luz Médica

The Minister of Health of Tucumán, Luis Medina-Ruiz, gave a press conference this morning in which he reported that “One of the patients was discharged from the hospital last night, but he continues with (medical) observation at home.”

Before case number 10 was reported, the minister had detailed the status of the 6 patients who are being assisted. “Right now we have three patients who are still hospitalized, of which two are on mechanical ventilation and one patient is on non-invasive ventilation, all three are in serious condition. There are three other patients who are in outpatient situation, under follow-up with less severity. And unfortunately, there were three deceased, ”he specified. A few hours later it was learned that an 81-year-old man had also contracted the disease.

Regarding the results of the samples sent to the ANLIS-Malbran Institute, the official explained: “The studies that are being done so far are negative for bacteria and viruses that are being investigated. In any case, there are studies that require cultures, so they require a little more time”. Meanwhile, he added that when the results are negative, another study is sought that is more sensitive and complex, which sometimes takes longer to perform.

Regarding the results of the samples sent to the ANLIS-Malbrán Institute, the minister explained: “The studies that are being done so far are negative for bacteria and viruses.
Regarding the results of the samples sent to the ANLIS-Malbrán Institute, the minister explained: "The studies that are being done so far are negative for bacteria and viruses" (Marcelo Endelli / Getty Images)

On the other hand, the minister confirmed that at this moment in the private clinic Luz Médica de San Miguel de Tucumán there are 19 hospitalized patients, some in intensive care and others in common rooms: “We from the Ministry of Public Health form teams that are going to support and evaluate the epidemic situation of patients. They are working on the control of internees, they are analyzing the epidemiological links and they are analyzing everything related to environmental health”.

Symptoms presented by all patients include fever, muscle and abdominal pain, and shortness of breath. Several patients had pneumonia in both lungs.

Also the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) He specified that the tests to detect known respiratory viruses and other viral, bacterial and fungal agents were all negative and highlighted that the biological samples were sent to the National Administration of Laboratories and Health Institutes of Argentina (ANLIS-Malbrán) to carry out more tests, which will include an analysis to detect the presence of toxins.

The expert said "mysterious illnesses" do happen sometimes, and most of the time they can be explained by some local outbreak that doesn't have pandemic implications (REUTERS/Lukas Barth)

The doctor Michael Osterholminfectious disease expert University of Minnesota, said that since the lungs are heavily involved, the cause is probably something the patients inhaledthe agency reported Reuters. The expert said that the “mystery illnesses” do occur sometimes, and most of the time they can be explained by some local outbreak that does not have pandemic implications.

He added that he hopes that the Argentine health authorities will provide more definitive information in the coming five or seven days. PAHO and WHO are monitoring the outbreak and assisting local health authorities in the investigation.

Regarding the three new cases under study that were known yesterdaythe Tucumán authorities indicated that they are three workers from the sanatorium who began with symptoms around August 23, so it is deduced that they belong to the same outbreak.

With current data, experts are inclined to two hypotheses: an infectious agent (virus or bacteria) hospitalized or a new germ (iStock)
With current data, experts are inclined to two hypotheses: an infectious agent (virus or bacteria) hospitalized or a new germ (iStock)

Pending the results of the samples sent to the ANLIS-Malbrán laboratory, the Tucumán health authorities explained: “Until now, all the studies that we had as negative for COVID-19, hantavirus and some strains of Legionella are also giving negative results there. We continue to carry out the research protocol for blood cultures, sputum cultures, urine cultures and all the viruses and bacteria that we have available in the province.”

With the current data, experts are inclined to two hypotheses: a nosocomial infectious agent (virus or bacteria) or a new germ that could not be detected because it is unknown to science.

The outbreak in Tucumán could have its origin in a Legionella infection.  Legionella bacteria grow and multiply in a building's water system
The outbreak in Tucumán could have its origin in a Legionella infection. Legionella bacteria grow and multiply in a building's water system

Experts in infectology and pulmonology consulted by Infobae suspect the presence of bacteria Legionella, but they insisted that the results of the studies that are underway must be awaited. According to the provincial Ministry of Public Health, It is being investigated whether the cause of the pneumonia outbreak may have been in the pipes that provide the water and air conditioning of the sanatorium.

Among the groups that present a higher risk of becoming ill due to exposure to the Legionella bacteria, according to data from the United States CDC -the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention- include people 50 years of age or older, smokers or former smokers. People with chronic lung disease (such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or emphysema).

Also attacks patients with a weakened immune system, or who take drugs that weaken it (transplant recipients or chemotherapy patients). People who have cancer or with underlying diseases (such as diabetes, kidney failure, or liver failure).

The health authorities of Tucumán are collaborating with the private clinic in the care of the case
The health authorities of Tucumán are collaborating with the private clinic in the care of the case

The mortality rate from legionellosis -the disease caused by the Legionella bacteria- depends on several factors: the severity of the disease, what type of antimicrobial treatment was applied at the beginning of the disease, where the infection was contracted and the health status of the host, especially if they have comorbidities or not.

In general terms, the mortality rate ranges between 5% and 10%. And it manifestly worsens in immunosuppressed peoplewhere the mortality rate can be between 40% and 80%.

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