Cause of pneumonia cluster in Argentina identified as legionella

The Pan American Health Organization said legionella caused a cluster of pneumonia cases in Tucumán, Argentina.

As of Saturday, 11 pneumonia cases were linked to a clinic in San Miguel de Tucumán, including four deaths in patients with underlying conditions, the organisation said.

The Argentine Ministry of Health told the organisation legionella was the cause, and authorities are investigating the source.

The ministry is "collecting environmental samples, conducting risk assessments, and implementing actions in the healthcare clinic related to the outbreak," the update said.

"PAHO is providing support to Argentinian health authorities from its Headquarters and the PAHO Country Office in Argentina to investigate and characterize the outbreak."

Legionnaires' disease is a bacterial pneumonia. Small droplets of water containing bacteria can cause a lung infection. Antibiotics treat the illness.

Shower heads, faucets, hot tubs, cooling towers, hot water tanks, decorative fountains, and large building plumbing systems can harbour the bacteria.

Some clinic workers developed symptoms between August 18 and 22, Argentina's health ministry said.

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