WARSAW: A major Legionella outbreak in the Polish city of Rzeszów and its surrounding region has caused the deaths of 19 people, local health officials said on Saturday, reported German news agency (dpa).

All the victims also had other illnesses, the Health Department in the southeastern city reported. The number of people infected with the bacterium has risen to 160, of whom 107 came from Rzeszów itself, according to the report.

The city, with a population of about 196,000, is located around 250 km south of Warsaw, towards the border with Ukraine.

Legionella can cause flu-like symptoms and even severe pneumonia in humans. The pathogens are often transmitted through atomised water, for example in showers, whirlpools, through humidifiers or via water taps.

The bacteria are found in low concentrations almost everywhere in water, and their ideal growth conditions are at between 25 and 45 degrees Celsius.

People with a weakened immune system, or with certain underlying diseases, such as diabetes and heart and lung conditions, are susceptible to Legionella.

Smokers and older people are considered to be more at risk. The associated Legionnaires’ disease is fatal in about five to 10 per cent of patients. - Bernama

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