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Mystery respiratory illness kills 3 and sickens 7 in Argentina, health officials say

A sickness which has stricken 11 people in Argentina, killing four, might have been the consequence of Legionella, the bacteria that triggers Legionnaires disease, health officials said Saturday.

Officials have already been trying to know what was evoking the malady that had sickened 11 people associated with an exclusive clinic in the town of San Miguel de Tucumn, roughly 670 miles north of Buenos Aires.

On Saturday, health officials said Legionella bacteria was identified in tests of four samples three respiratory and a biopsy in one of individuals who died.

The suspicion is that it’s an outbreak of legionella pneumophila, Dr. Carla Vizzotti, the countrys health minister, said in a statement.

Data continues to be preliminary and pending final diagnosis, Vizzotti added.

The Legionella bacteria could be transmitted when people breathe small droplets of water or accidentally swallow water containing the bacteria in to the lungs, based on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It could cause Legionnaires disease, a significant kind of pneumonia.

The 11 patients from the Luz Mdica clinic include three individuals who were under observation and receiving treatment; a 64-year-old man with preexisting conditions, or comorbidities, who was simply hospitalized in serious condition; and an 81-year-old man who was simply also hospitalized in serious condition, medical ministry for Tucumn Province said in news releases.

Three employees at the clinic also contracted the condition: a 40-year-old pharmacy assistant who was simply hospitalized, a 44-year-old nurse being monitored in the home, and a 30-year-old nurse, said Luis Medina Ruiz, the provincial health minister, at a news conference this week.

The Tucumn province ministry of health said Saturday a fourth death has been linked with the cluster. The deceased was referred to as a 48-year-old man with comorbidities who was simply in serious condition at a hospital, the ministry said in a statement.

The three others who died also had pre-existing conditions, the ministry said.

A 70-year-old woman who had gallbladder surgery at the clinic was on the list of deceased. She was initially considered the clusters patient zero, but her case will undergo further analysis, Ruiz said.

The Legionella bacteria could be transmitted when people breathe small droplets of water or accidentally swallow water containing the bacteria in to the lungs, based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It could cause Legionnaires disease, a significant kind of pneumonia.

Symptoms, which first appeared in six cases linked to the facility, developed from Aug. 18 to 23, provincial health officials said. The most recent cases included three patients announced Thursday, one announced Friday, and the main one announced Saturday.

THE PLANET Health Organizations agency for the Americas, the Pan American Health Organization, said Argentinas Ministry of Health informed it of the original cluster of six patients on Tuesday.

PAHO said Thursday that hallmarks of the then-mystery illness include bilateral pneumonia, defined by infection in both lungs, along with fever, muscle aches, abdominal pain, and difficulty breathing.

Tests for respiratory viruses along with other viral, bacterial and fungal agents have up to now been negative in the initial six cases, PAHO said in a statement Thursday.

At a news conference earlier this week with Ruiz along with other medical professionals, it had been announced that initial testing also seemed to eliminate Covid-19, Legionella and hantavirus, which may be spread by rodents.

Additional tests, including the ones that would find noninfectious, potentially drug-related or toxicity fueled causes, were being conducted at a national laboratory run by the Argentinian government, PAHO said.

Dennis Romero

Dennis Romero is really a breaking news reporter for NBC News Digital.

Isabela Espadas Barros Leal

Isabela Espadas Barros Leal is really a Digital Platforms Editor for NBC News in NY.

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