Mystery flu ‘similar to Covid’ leaves dozens critically ill with doctors on high alert

By Staff 4 Min Read

An alert about the mystery virus circulated via international public health surveillance system ProMed as 60 people were reported with the sickness in Argentina

Doctors are on high alert over a mystery flu-like illness – with similarities to Covid-19 – that has people critically ill in Argentina.

International public health surveillance system, ProMed, issued an alert on April 17 after 60 cases of the unknown sickness were reported in Buenos Aires. This is the same database that first alerted authorities to Covid-19 back in late 2019.

The alert, submitted anonymously “via an individual known to ProMed”, stated: “In the past 30 days, there appears to have been an increase in severe atypical pneumonia requiring critical care in Buenos Aires. The affected individuals are mostly young people without major risk factors.”

While no official statements have been made by Argentinian officials, it’s reported that patients have needed mechanical ventilation to help them breathe. Over a third of those affected showed symptoms of psittacosis, a disease caused by a type of chlamydia found in birds. However, many had no apparent history of contact with birds, the alert noted.

Psittacosis, also known as parrot fever, is causing concern with its flu-like symptoms that can escalate to pneumonia. It’s a particular worry for the elderly or those with weakened immune systems, reports the Daily Star. The alert warned: “Although psittacosis appears to be the etiology of some of the cases, there may be more than one agent involved. ProMED would appreciate more information about these cases.”

The Daily Mail reports that experts are urging health officials not to take the situation lightly, despite reassurances that it’s “unlikely this will pose a threat more widely”.

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