DIEGO ARAOZ / AFP
The entrance to the Luz Medica Hospital, where 9 people have been infected with a mysterious virus.
ARGENTINA – Three people have died since Monday in Tucumán, in northwestern Argentina, from severe pneumonia, “of unknown origin” These cases are extremely localized around the same clinic, and for which Covid and flu have been especially ruled out.
A total of nine cases have been identified, including eight members of the medical staff of the same private clinic in San Miguel de Tucumán, known as Tucumán (1,300 km from Buenos Aires), with symptoms that appeared between August 18 and 23. , indicated at a press conference on Thursday, September 1, the provincial Minister of Health Luis Medina Ruiz.
Two members of the nursing staff died on Monday and then on Wednesday, and the minister announced on Thursday the death of a third person, a 70-year-old woman who was a patient at the same private clinic, where she had undergone surgery.
this patient “He had been operated on for a gallbladder problem and then reoperated twice. From then on, there was a picture of pulmonary infection that coincided with the appearance (of symptoms) in others”, accurate. This patient could “in principle to be ”patient zero”, but it is in the exam”.
Extensive testing is underway at Argentina’s reference laboratory, the Malbran Institute in Buenos Aires, with results expected by the end of the week. But in particular Covid, the flu, influenza type A and B and hantavirus (transmitted by rodents) have already been ruled out, Luis Ruiz Medina said on Wednesday.
Common symptoms are “A severe respiratory condition with bilateral pneumonia, and an image very similar to that of Covid, but this has been ruled out”also reported. “Most began with vomiting, high fever, diarrhea and body aches, with a more complex course in some”he said Thursday.
Of the six affected patients, four are hospitalized with more or less severe symptoms, another two are followed in home isolation. The three new cases revealed Thursday are those of a 40-year-old nurse and nurse, and a 30-year-old nurse with comorbidities.
A very localized epidemic
After the outbreak of the outbreak, a “intense search for all health personnel” of the clinic was launched for follow-up purposes, Ruiz Medina said. The clinic, requested by AFP, declined to comment. No more than relatives of patients, including the deceased patient, outside the establishment.
The infectologist Mario Raya, deputy director of the Zenón Santillán Health Center, the main public hospital in Tucumán, also assured this Thursday that “At the moment, we have no cases outside this establishment”.
“It is an epidemic, in a certain place, with a specific cause and a certain number of people. For now, everything related to this pathology is under investigation.told the local newspaper The Gazette of Tucuman.
Obvious “aggressive” pathology
On the origin of the pathology, the provincial Minister of Health had speculated on Wednesday that it could come from an infectious agent, but that was not ruled out. “toxic or environmental causes”. Tests are also being performed on the clinic’s water and air conditioning systems.
“So far we have not found anything that allows us to know the cause of the epidemic. Since we don’t know what it consists of, we don’t know evolution well.”he declared. However, he noted that to date no cases have been identified in close contacts of the patients, a “positive news” according to him.
“It would not be a disease that results in person-to-person transmission, since the close contacts of these patients do not present any symptoms”, explained this Wednesday, in the same sense, the president of the Medical College of the province of Tucumán, Héctor Sale. As he expresses his ” to worry “ due to obvious pathology “aggressive”.
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