Sixteen folks have died and over 150 have been hospitalized in southeastern Poland in an outbreak of Legionnaires’ illness, a extreme pressure of bacterial pneumonia, native well being authorities mentioned Wednesday.

The outbreak has been concentrated within the southeastern metropolis of Rzeszow, which lies about 60 miles from the border with neighboring Ukraine, though some circumstances have been registered elsewhere. The Polish well being ministry mentioned this week that the largely seemingly supply of an infection was Rzeszow’s municipal water community.

As soon as comparatively quiet, Rzeszow has grow to be an vital hub for the worldwide response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, internet hosting American troopers and hundreds of Ukrainian refugees. The deaths, which have occurred over the previous week, sparked unfounded rumors in Poland of Russian accountability for the outbreak that the authorities have tried to tamp down.

Stanislaw Zaryn, a deputy minister who oversees the nation’s intelligence companies, mentioned Friday that the Polish inner safety service was pursuing a routine investigation into the circumstances behind the an infection to rule out “potential intentional motion on this case.”

Prof. Robert Flisiak, an epidemiologist who leads the Polish Affiliation of Epidemiologists and Infectiologists, mentioned there had been no proof that somebody had sought to trigger the outbreak.

“The precise variety of registered circumstances within the final two weeks is what we normally report in two years,” Professor Flisiak mentioned in an e mail. However the variety of circumstances in Poland was nonetheless small in comparison with common outbreaks in different European international locations, he added.

Legionnaires’ illness could be deadly in about 10 % of circumstances, based on the U.S. Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention. Most wholesome folks uncovered to the micro organism don’t grow to be sick, however the danger is greater among the many aged and folks with weak immune programs.

The illness is normally unfold by inhaling airborne water droplets — equivalent to vapor from ornamental fountains or scorching tubs — reasonably than by means of interpersonal contact or ingesting water, based on the C.D.C. In Rzeszow, a authorities disaster staff shut off water fountains and ingesting stations in response to the outbreak.

Over the previous few days, native authorities in Rzeszow have handled town’s water provide community with chlorine in an try and wipe out the an infection, the municipality mentioned on its Fb web page. Town advisable that residents — confronted with the stench of chlorine coming from their faucets — boil the water earlier than consuming it.

Rising temperatures spurred partially by local weather change might have performed a task within the outbreak, Professor Flisiak mentioned, because the micro organism that trigger Legionnaires’ illness thrive within the warmth. Like a lot of Europe, Poland has had sweltering temperatures this summer season, a part of a continentwide warmth wave.

Anatol Magdziarz contributed reporting from Warsaw.


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