In a follow-up on the pneumonia outbreak in Tucumán, Argentina, the Minister of Health of the Nation, Carla Vizzotti , and the representative in Argentina of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Eva Jané Llopis, this Saturday from the province’s health portfolio confirmed that the samples taken from patients affected by bilateral pneumonia tested positive for legionella bacteria.
Vizzotti explained at a press conference that, until now, they have preliminary information and there is still progress to be made in the final diagnosis, which is with serological pairs, however “in four samples (three respiratory and a puncture biopsy of one of the deceased) it is being isolated in the PCR a bacterium called legionella and its surname is being typified and will be there today,” he said, adding: “The suspicion is that it is an outbreak of legionella pneumophila.”
The Minister of Health commented that it is a bacterium that is transmitted by inhalation through water or air conditioning. It has an antibiotic treatment and a significant impact on people at risk, older than 50 years, smokers, diabetics and people with immunocompromise or respiratory diseases.
All the actions are being generated and the recommendation that we agree with the provincial team is that, having the diagnosis and that it is safe to transfer these patients to another hospital to follow their evolution, to be able to generate an exhaustive study of the health center and thus carry out the actions in the building both in the water and in the air conditioning system so that it is completely safe to return to work in such a health center”, said Vizzotti.
For his part, the Minister of Public Health, Dr. Luis Medina Ruiz , highlighted the joint work with the Nation and contextualized stating that since last Saturday, when they became aware of two patients with bilateral pneumonia who were not with a known etiology of the 30 studies that can be developed in Tucumán and that they came from the same place of work, “it caught our attention and we began to work in the active search for patients who meet the same conditions and we found six”.
“So it was that on Monday we checked that it was neither Covid-19 nor flu nor hantavirus, and on Tuesday we made the decision to make this new epidemic situation known and we generated a contingency plan together with the Nation to evaluate the etiology,” he explained.
Along these lines, he continued: “We developed a patient control strategy, we decided on the sanitary isolation of the private sanatorium and we sent samples to the National Institute of Microbiology Dr. Malbrán and the National Institute of Human Viral Diseases «Dr. Julio I. Maiztegui».
Finally, the representative of the Pan American Health Organization, Dr. Eva Jane Llopis , valued the speed and efficiency with which these cases were worked on both in the province and in the Nation. “This demonstrates an optimal way to identify the problem and respond, in addition to notifying the world in a timely manner, through the mechanism of international health regulations. There you can see the commitment of Tucumán and Argentina to global public health and I think this is very important”, she emphasized.