An outbreak of Legionnaires' disease in the northern province of Tucumán has claimed a sixth life, with eight new cases reported, provincial health officials said Monday.
"Today we are including eight new patients, one of whom is a patient at the sanatorium, two are health personnel and five are caregivers of patients who were hospitalised," provincial Health Minister Luis Medina Ruiz told a press conference.
The latest victim, who died late Sunday, was an 81-year-old patient with comorbidities who had been "in a serious condition" receiving treatment for pneumonia, the Tucumán Province Health Ministry said in a statement.
The outbreak at the same San Miguel de Tucumán clinic, some 1,300 kilometers (800 miles) north of Buenos Aires, was first detected on August 18.
At the moment, six people have died from the bacteria, four are hospitalised, two of whom are on respiratory assistance and nine are hospitalised at home.
The ANLIS-Malbrán Institute in Buenos Aires, where authorities had sent samples for testing, identified the previously mystery illness as Legionnaires' after ruling out Covid-19, flu and hantavirus.
The disease, which first appeared at a 1976 convention of the American Legion veterans group in the United States, has been linked to contaminated water and unclean aeration systems. Symptoms include high fever, aches and trouble breathing.
The clinic is temporarily closed and a "clinical and epidemiological investigation" is underway to determine the source of the outbreak, Medina Ruiz told local media.
"There are no patients [of this pneumonia] who were not related to the private sanatorium in August, and that is the situation where the limits are," the minister said, adding that the authorities now have "a little more certainty."
He said that the bacterium is not transmitted from person to person, but by inhalation or through water and is not contagious.
The eight new patients were added to the register by broadening the inclusion criteria, said Medina Ruiz, since it became known that the causative bacterium does not always cause bilateral pneumonia. There have been 19 infections to date.