Three people have died in Argentina after contracting a “pneumonia of unknown origin”apparently located in a clinic in Tucuman, in the northwest of the country, local health authorities announced on Thursday 1er september.
Nine people in all, including eight members of the nursing staff, have been affected by the respiratory pathology, and three have died since Monday, provincial health minister Luis Medina Ruiz told the press.
Tests are underway on the origin of the disease, but Covid-19, influenza, type A and B influenza, or hantavirus (transmitted by rodents) have already been ruled out, according to the minister. Samples were sent to the Argentine reference laboratory, the Malbran Institute in Buenos Aires.
Toxic and environmental causes not ruled out
The third victim is “a 70-year-old patient, who was hospitalized” for surgery in the clinic. According to Mr. Medina Ruiz, it could be “in principle the “zero patient”, but it is under examination”.
On Wednesday, the minister had described common patient symptoms as “a severe respiratory condition with bilateral pneumonia, and imaging very similar to Covid-19, but this has been ruled out”. The first six cases had presented symptoms between August 18 and 22, the three new cases announced on Thursday presented symptoms between August 20 and 23. Of these three new people, two are hospitalized, and one is being monitored at residence.
The health minister of Tucuman estimated on Wednesday that the origin of the pathology could be an infectious agent, but that “toxic, environmental causes” were not excluded. Analyzes are also underway on water and air conditioning systems.