The outbreak of Legionnaires disease in Rzeszow, Poland, which has resulted in the deaths of seven individuals, is now being investigated as a possible act of sabotage by Poland’s Internal Security Agency (ABW). According to a spokesman for the security services in Warsaw, there is also speculation that Russia may be involved in spreading panic about the outbreak.
Since the initial cases were reported, there have been a total of 113 confirmed cases in the Rzeszow area, ranging from the city itself to the border town of Przemysl, which is situated near Ukraine. It is worth noting that the patients who died were elderly individuals between the ages of 64 and 95, and they had comorbidities such as cancer.
Ewa Leniart, the head of the regional government, has stated that the most likely source of the contagion is the water supply system. Samples from the system have been sent to laboratories for testing, and the results are expected to be available on Monday. Leniart reassured the public that the situation is under control.
Rzeszow is a city located in southeastern Poland, approximately 100 kilometers from the Ukrainian border. It has played a significant role in the supply of weapons, ammunition, and equipment to Ukraine as part of US and NATO efforts following Russia’s military operation in Ukraine in February 2022. Additionally, Rzeszow has served as a staging area for Western leaders traveling to Ukraine, including US President Joe Biden. The city is also home to a number of US troops.
Given Rzeszow’s importance to the Western war effort, Polish authorities have expressed heightened suspicions regarding the outbreak. They have been actively searching for suspected Russian spies, including professional hockey players and Ukrainian nationals. Furthermore, Poland has increased its military presence on the border with Belarus as a precaution against potential hybrid warfare threats from the private military company Wagner Group, which relocated to Belarus after a failed mutiny.
Legionnaires disease, also known as Legionellosis, is a pneumonia-like illness caused by the legionella bacteria commonly found in water sources. This infection is particularly dangerous for individuals with pre-existing lung conditions, and it has a mortality rate of up to 10%. In the United States, approximately 13,000 cases are reported each year, while the European Union recorded nearly 11,000 cases in 2021, resulting in 704 fatalities.
The investigation into the outbreak in Rzeszow is ongoing, and further updates are expected in the coming days. Authorities are committed to identifying the source of the contagion and ensuring the safety of the public. It remains to be seen if the outbreak was indeed an act of sabotage or if it is purely a result of natural circumstances.