So far, five people have died in Poland in a major Legionella outbreak. The fifth fatality in the southeastern Polish city of Rzeszow is a 79-year-old who died on Thursday night as a result of legionellosis, the director of the local hospital told the PAP news agency.

In the past few days, four other people had died from an infection with the bacteria in Rzeszow. According to the information, there are currently 76 patients in clinics, several of them in the intensive care unit.

The Ministry of Health announced after the meeting of a crisis team on Wednesday evening that it was being investigated whether the city’s water pipe system was the source of the Legionella spread. According to the city’s mayor, laboratory results will not be available until Monday. Until then, the water should be treated with increased dosages of chlorine, ozone and UV rays. No matches were found among the sick – for example in their place of residence, a stay in a specific place or certain activities.

transmission paths

Legionella can cause flu-like symptoms to severe pneumonia in humans. The pathogens are often transmitted through atomized water, for example in showers, whirlpools, through humidifiers or through faucets. Legionella find ideal growth conditions at temperatures between 25 and 45 degrees. According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), bacterial growth is inhibited at water temperatures above 55 degrees. At more than 60 degrees, the germs die off.

People with a weakened immune system or with certain underlying diseases such as diabetes and heart and lung diseases are particularly susceptible to Legionella. Smokers and the elderly are also considered at higher risk. According to the RKI, the disease is fatal in about five to ten percent of patients.