Health authorities in northern Argentina have reported one new case of an unidentified illness that has sickened at least 10 people, officials say. The cause of the outbreak remains unknown.
The health ministry in Tucumán province said in a statement on Friday that an 81-year-old man with comorbidities has been linked to the outbreak. The man is hospitalized in the public sector in serious condition.
The statement did not specify where or when the man may have been infected. All of the prior cases had been found at Luz Médica, a private clinic in the city of San Miguel de Tucuman.
Dr. Luis Medina Ruiz, the region’s health minister, said at a briefing on Thursday that experts have carried out tests for more than 30 possible causes so far – including coronavirus, influenza, hantavirus, and multiple strains of Legionella – but all have come back negative.
The first known case is a 70-year-old woman who was admitted to Luz Médica in mid-August to undergo surgery for a gallbladder problem. She developed a lung infection on August 18, after which healthcare workers who had contacted her started falling ill.
A doctor and a nurse later died, and the first patient died on Thursday morning. Four other patients, including the new case, remain in serious condition. Three more are being treated on an outpatient basis. Symptoms of the illness include shortness of breath, pneumonia and fever.
“We are all on alert about this issue,” Medina Ruiz said. “We are releasing guides to public and private intensive care units for the possible appearance of a patient with these characteristics, especially to make a proper diagnosis with all the necessary protocols and PPE, as recommended with all patients with respiratory conditions.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Center for Disease Control (ECDC) are both monitoring the outbreak.
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