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Four die from Legionella pneumophilia infections in Poland

The number of deaths caused by an outbreak of the Legionella pneumophilia bacterium in the south-eastern city of Rzeszow has risen to four.

A patient infected with the bacterium died in the chemotherapy ward of the Podkarpackie Centre for Lung Diseases on Wednesday, Andrzej Sroka, the spokesman for the hospital told PAP.

Earlier in the day, an elderly patient with comorbidities who had been admitted in a serious condition to the allergology ward of the same hospital also died.

On Tuesday, the bacterium claimed the life of a person who was undergoing treatment for cancer, and, according to health officials, had low immunity.

The head of Rzeszow Sanitary Inspectorate, Jaromir Slaczka, told PAP on Wednesday that the number of people in hospital with infections caused by the Legionella pneumophilia bacterium had risen to 71.

The bacterium, which occurs in man-made water systems, can cause Legionnaires’ disease, a dangerous form of pneumonia

On Tuesday, Slaczka said that the local health department had initiated an investigation to track down the source of the bacteria.

Water samples have been taken from the homes of infected people, while the hot water supplies in nursing homes, hospitals and public buildings are also under suspicion.

Slaczka also said that on Tuesday, 28 of those infected had caught the bacterium while being treated for other medical issues in the same hospital. 

Later on Wednesday, Grzegorz Materna, the director of the municipal hospital in Rzeszow, confirmed that a fourth person had died as a result of a Legionella pneumophilia infection.

He said the victim was a 70-year-old man who was also suffering from advanced cancer.

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