WARSAW, Poland (AP) – Only one new case of Legionnaires’ disease was reported Tuesday in southeastern Poland, in an area close to the border with Ukraine, an indication that the spread of the disease has been curbed after chlorine disinfection of the water system.
The latest fatality was recorded on Friday, bringing the death toll since the July outbreak to 19. A total of 166 people have been infected in the Rzeszow region, about 80 kilometers from the border.
It is an important transit hub for international military support to Ukraine after Russia’s large-scale invasion last year. About 10,000 US troops are stationed in the area.
Health authorities, prosecutors and homeland security agencies were still searching for the source of the lung infections in a strategically sensitive region. Experts say it could be from hot water in seldom-used pipes in hot weather.
The deaths from the disease were among elderly people who also suffered from other health problems, such as cancer, authorities said.
Legionnaires’ disease is a lung infection caused by inhalation of infected water mist. It is not spread through drinking water.
It is usually collected in places such as hotels, hospitals or offices where the bacteria has entered the water supply, for example in air conditioning systems or faucets and showers that are not used often.
The germs multiply at temperatures between 20 and 50 degrees Celsius (68-122 degrees Fahrenheit). The disease is treated with antibiotics.