Legionella Bacteria Found in Polish City’s Water Supply

Investigation Underway Amid Legionnaires’ Disease Outbreak

Confirmation of Legionella bacteria in the water supply system of Rzeszów, a city in southeastern Poland, has triggered concerns and investigations into the possibility of deliberate contamination. The country’s counterintelligence agency, ABW, is looking into whether the city’s water supply has been intentionally targeted.

Rzeszów’s Significance and Legionnaires’ Disease Outbreak

Rzeszów serves as Poland’s primary logistics hub for sending aid to Ukraine, both military and humanitarian, and it’s also a base for U.S. troops. Tragically, the city has been grappling with an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease, which has led to 11 deaths and 144 cases since mid-August. The victims, aged between 64 to 95, had pre-existing health conditions.

Bacterial Presence Confirmed in Water Supply

Four out of nine tested samples from Rzeszów’s water supply system have tested positive for the presence of legionella bacteria, known to cause Legionnaires’ disease, according to Sanepid, the local sanitary and epidemiological service. However, the origin of the contamination remains unclear.

Investigations and Further Testing

Authorities are intensifying efforts to pinpoint the source of the outbreak. Sanepid stated that while the initial results are inconclusive about the source of infection, subsequent tests are expected to shed light on this crucial aspect. More than 100 additional water samples from Rzeszów are slated for testing.

ABW’s Counterintelligence Probe

ABW, Poland’s counterintelligence agency, is conducting a separate investigation to rule out foul play in connection with the outbreak. Their objective is to ensure that external interference hasn’t contributed to the disease’s spread.

Wider Geographic Impact

Beyond Rzeszów, new cases of Legionnaires’ disease have emerged in different regions. A single case was reported in the Kraków region, while two cases were confirmed in Ostrów Wielkopolski, located approximately 450 kilometers west of Rzeszów.

Legionnaires’ Disease and Its Transmission

Legionnaires’ disease, scientifically referred to as legionellosis, can lead to severe pneumonic infections, particularly risky for older individuals with underlying health conditions. The World Health Organization (WHO) highlights that the primary mode of transmission is through inhaling contaminated aerosols from infected water sources. This could occur through air conditioning cooling towers, water systems, humidifiers, and whirlpool spas.

Preventive Measures Taken

As a precautionary measure, Rzeszów has undertaken disinfection of its water supply over the weekend. This step aims to curb the potential spread of the disease while investigations continue.

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