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Poland launches probe as Legionella confirmed in city water supply

Poland launches probe as Legionella confirmed in city water supply

by host

Legionella bacteria have been confirmed in the water supply system of the southeastern Polish city of Rzeszów, with the country’s counterintelligence agency ABW investigating whether the city is the target of deliberate contamination.

Rzeszów is Poland’s main logistics hub for sending military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine and a base for U.S. troops. The city has been the center of a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in the country, with 11 deaths and 144 cases to date since mid-August. The deaths all involved people aged between 64 to 95 with pre-existing health problems.

Four out of nine tested samples from Rzeszów’s water supply system confirmed the presence of legionella bacteria, which cause Legionnaires’ disease, the local sanitary and epidemiological service Sanepid said Monday. However, the source of the contamination is unclear.

“At this moment, the received results … do not provide a basis to determine the potential source of infection,” it said in a statement. The officials added that subsequent test results will help to pinpoint the source of the outbreak.

More than 100 further water samples from Rzeszów are in line to undergo testing, Sanepid said.

A separate investigation by Poland’s counterintelligence agency ABW to rule out foul play is underway.

“The [ABW] investigation aims at excluding any external interference that could have led to the outbreak of the disease,” Stanisław Żaryn, deputy coordinator of Polish security services, said in a video posted Friday.

In recent days, cases of Legionnaires’ disease have emerged further afield, with a single case reported in the Kraków region on Sunday and two confirmed in the town of Ostrów Wielkopolski, some 450 kilometers west of Rzeszów, on Monday.

Legionnaires’ disease, or legionellosis, could lead to a severe pneumonic infection, dangerous especially for older people with other health conditions. According to WHO, “the most common form of transmission is inhalation of contaminated aerosols from contaminated water,” such as via air conditioning cooling towers, hot and cold water systems, humidifiers and whirlpool spas.

Over the weekend, Rzeszów disinfected the water supply as a precautionary measure.

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