April 16, 2024

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Mystery pneumonia: Argentina investigates three deaths

In Argentina, a strain of pneumonia that has so far claimed the lives of nine people has claimed a third victim this week.

Each case revolves around a private medical facility in the province of Tucuman in the northwest.

Authorities claim to have ruled out COVID and common flu strains, but they are still performing additional infection testing.

Tests are also being done on the local water supply and air conditioners as part of the cause-and-effect investigation.

A 70-year-old woman who had been brought to the hospital for surgery was the third victim.

On Monday, the unidentified disease claimed its first victim among the facility’s staff, and two days later, a second. Like the 70-year-old woman, they both had additional underlying medical conditions.

The initial symptoms of the first six victims appeared between August 18 and August 23. The symptoms included high fever, bodily aches, and respiratory issues.

Hector Sale, president of Tucuman Provincial Medical College, said that there have been no cases discovered among any of the patients’ close acquaintances or family members, adding that “we are not dealing with a condition that results in person-to-person transmission.”

Along with the Argentine health authorities, the Pan American Health Organization is keeping an eye on the issue.

Prof. Paul Hunter, a medical professor at the University of East Anglia, stated that it was “very much impossible” to predict the potential consequences at this time.

Due to the speed at which checks and testing may provide results, he claimed that experts should have more answers in a matter of days.

“It is too early to comment on whether this constitutes a hazard to a wider population or remains isolated to the institution, or whether it might be caused by a novel pathogen or one we already know about,” said Prof. Beate Kampmann from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

According to Prof. Sir Peter Horby of Oxford University, there are similarities to how the COVID outbreak started, including illnesses among healthcare personnel that involve severe pneumonia.