Mysterious pneumonia kills three in Argentina in new alarming outbreak
- Cases include eight health workers and one ICU patient in Tucumán
- Officials are concerned as Covid, flu and hantavirus have been ruled out
- Alarming Similarities With How Covid Started Spreading In Wuhan In Late 2019
Three people have died of mysterious pneumonia in Argentina, raising fears of another viral outbreak.
Health officials in the South American country said another six were infected with “pneumonia of unknown origin.”
It concerns eight health workers and an ICU patient who is being treated at a private hospital in Tucumán, a small region 800 miles northwest of the capital Buenos Aires.
Officials are concerned as Covid, flu and hantavirus have all been ruled out.
The fact that it has spread to health professionals — often the victims of new viral outbreaks — indicates that the culprit may be a contagious disease.
It comes two and a half years after reports of unexplained pneumonia began leaking from Wuhan, China, in December 2019. It turned out to be Covid.
Three people have died of mysterious pneumonia in Argentina, raising fears of another viral outbreak (file image)
The cases occurred in Tucumán, a small region 800 miles northwest of the capital Buenos Aires
The first six patients started showing symptoms between August 18 and 22.
Of the last three cases, two are treated in hospital and one is monitored at home
Luis Medina Ruiz, Tucumán’s health minister, told local media: “What these patients have in common is the severe respiratory disease with bilateral pneumonia and a compromise in [X-ray] images are very similar to Covid, but that is out of the question.’
He said the patients were tested for more than 30 bugs — including “Covid, cold, both type A and B flu” — all of which were negative.
Samples were sent to Argentina’s National Administration of Health Laboratories and Institutes for further analysis.
The hospital is locked and patient contacts are being traced and isolated.
Officials are also investigating whether the flood of cases is the result of a bacterial outbreak, possibly due to contaminated water or air conditioning.
Experts in the West said it was too early to sound the alarm, despite the outbreak’s similarities to the rise of Covid.
The epidemic intelligence team at the European Center for Disease Control has been monitoring the cluster of cases since Tuesday.
And scientists from the World Health Organization (WHO) are also monitoring the situation.
Professor Devi Sridhar, chair of global health at the University of Edinburgh, told The Telegraph: ‘It is clearly worrying, but we still need important information on transmission and hopefully [on the] underlying cause.
‘This shows our collective vulnerability to dangerous pathogens. An outbreak in any part of the world – if not contained quickly – could spread quickly, given air traffic and trade.”
OUTBREAK IN ARGENTINI: WHAT DO WE KNOW?
What happened? Six people in Argentina have been affected by pneumonia, an inflammation of tissue in the lungs.
Pneumonia is usually caused by a bacterial infection or a virus.
The Argentine patients have tested negative for 30 common viruses, raising concerns that a new pathogen could be the culprit.
Who is affected? The latest cases have been among five health professionals and one ICU patient.
The patient was being treated at a private hospital in Tucumán, a small region 800 miles northwest of the capital Buenos Aires.
Two people have died, the rest are still in hospital.
Is it a concern? Western experts have said it is too early to sound the alarm.
But the similarities with the origins of Covid and the relentless last two years of the pandemic will undoubtedly cause concern.
Reports of unexplained pneumonia began leaking from Wuhan, China, in December 2019.