Poland’s Internal Security Agency is probing whether an outbreak of the Legionnaires disease in Rzeszow may have been an act of sabotage given the city’s role as a hub for NATO supplies to Ukraine.
(Bloomberg) — Poland’s Internal Security Agency is probing whether an outbreak of the Legionnaires disease in Rzeszow may have been an act of sabotage given the city’s role as a hub for NATO supplies to Ukraine.
The lung disease killed seven people in Rzeszow, while 113 are hospitalized, according to local authorities. The investigation aims to rule out any external act that could have led to the outbreak, Stanislaw Zaryn, a spokesman for Poland’s security services, said on X, confirming a report by radio RMF.
Rzeszow, about 100 kilometers (62 miles) from Ukrainian border, became the gateway for the West’s humanitarian aid and military supplies since Russia began its invasion 18 months ago.
The city of about 200,000 is hosting US soldiers as well as Patriot air defense system and has been a transit hub for many official on their way to Kyiv, including US President Joe Biden, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron.
Local authorities are conducting tests and expect to know the source of the outbreak on Monday, Ewa Leniart, head of the region’s government, told RMF. The infections were most likely caused by the water in the supply system and the situation is under control, she said.
Legionnaires is a type of pneumonia caused by Legionella bacteria, which on average causes death in 5%-10% of cases, according to the World Health Organization. People can become ill when they breathe in droplets of water or swallow water containing the bacteria.
In 2021, there were some 10,700 cases of the disease reported in the European Union, with 704 known fatalities, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
Worries about potential hostile activities by Kremlin have grown as the war drags on. The Polish authorities this year detained at least 15 people accused of spying for Russia. In March, the Interior Ministry said that the suspects sought to cripple deliveries of equipment, weapons and assistance to Ukraine.
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