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Poland: Legionnaire's bacteria outbreak kills 19

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An outbreak of Legionnaire's disease in southeastern Poland has killed 19 people, health officials said on Saturday.

The outbreak hit the city of Rzeszow and surrounding areas.

Rzeszow's health department said that all those who died also had other illnesses.

Around 160 people in the region have been infected with the bacterium that causes the disease, including 107 people in the city of Rzeszow.

Earlier this week, authorities said that the number of infections was unprecedented in the region.

Rzeszow lies some 80 kilometers (50 miles) from Poland's border with Ukraine and is a major transit hub for military aid for Kyiv.

What is Legionnaire's disease?

Legionnaire's disease is a lung infection caused by the Legionella bacterium, which can bring about flu-like symptoms and even severe pneumonia.

Legionella bacteria can infect humans through inhaled water spray, including from showers, humidifiers, air conditioners or taps. It does not spread through drinking water.

The disease is usually contracted in hotels, hospitals, and offices where the bacteria have got into the water supply.

The bacteria are common in water but are generally found in low concentrations. They find ideal growth conditions at temperatures between 25 and 45 degrees Celsius (between 77 and 113 degrees Fahrenheit).

Experts have said that the bacteria causing the disease could have spread in high temperatures during the recent heat wave.

People with diabetes or with heart and lung conditions are particularly vulnerable to the disease, as are smokers and older people.

Legionnaire's disease is fatal in about 5-10% of those infected. It is treated with antibiotics.