An unknown kind of bilateral pneumonia has sickened 9 folks and killed 3 in Argentina


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An unknown type of bilateral pneumonia has caused nine illnesses, three hospitalizations and three deaths in Argentina, according to a statement this week from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), a regional office of the World Health Organization (WHO). The outbreak includes one patient and eight health care workers, according to the statement, and all cases are linked to the same health care center.

The illnesses all occurred in a private clinic in the province of Tucumán in northern Argentina, and authorities do not yet know the cause of the illness (sometimes called etiological identification). According to the statement, samples were tested for respiratory viruses (including COVID-19) as well as viral, bacterial and fungal infections – more than 26 different possible causes in all, according to reports from Initiated— but all came back negative, the statement said.

Symptoms reported so far include fever, abdominal pain, muscle aches and difficulty breathing. The disease causes bilateral pneumonia, which means inflammation is present in both lungs.

One of nine people with the disease has been discharged from hospital and is in isolation at home and in stable condition. The PAHO statement says that the three people who died from the disease had other health conditions (called comorbidities), although it did not mention what the specific comorbidities were.

Currently, officials say they are submitting the samples they have collected for toxicology analysis to the National Administration of Laboratories and Health Institutes, according to the statement. They are also doing contact tracing to identify others who may have been exposed. As of September 1, no close contact of the three deceased had developed symptoms of the disease, the statement said. PAHO and WHO continue to investigate the outbreak with Argentine health authorities.

If reading about a new, unknown illness is anxiety-provoking for you, you’re not alone. The COVID-19 pandemic, not to mention the ongoing monkeypox outbreak as well as the first reported case of polio in the United States in nearly a decade, has shaped the way we perceive information like this. But context is key, and it’s important to keep in mind that not every new disease becomes a pandemic. In other words, until we know more, there’s no need to panic.

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