Department of Health officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire (PNA photo by Avito Dalan)

MANILA – The Philippines has the capacity to monitor Legionnaires' disease, the cause of pneumonia outbreak in Argentina, a health official said Monday.

“We are capable of testing for this specific disease na kanila pong sinususpetiya, ‘yung (which they are suspecting, the) Legionnaire’s disease,” Department of Health (DOH) officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a media briefing.

Earlier, reports said the disease killed four people in Argentina and eleven cases linked to a private health clinic in the city of San Miguel de Tucuman in the South American nation have been identified. The World Health Organization is monitoring the situation.

“Meron ho tayong kapasidad (We have the capacity) to do surveillance and RITM, our Research Institute for Tropical Medicine is very much capable of doing laboratory surveillance for this type of disease,” Vergeire said.

She noted that the DOH is part of the international monitoring of infectious diseases, citing that they have already reports about the pneumonia cases in Argentina.

“We have this platform called International Health Regulations, ‘yung IHR kung saan po ang bawat bansa dito po, internationally have this constant coordination among detected cases of specific, sakit na biglang lumalabas (in IHR, countries internationally have this constant coordination among detected cases of specific, which suddenly come up) these are emerging and re-emerging infections,” she said.

The symptoms of Legionnaire’s disease include abdominal pains, fever, muscle aches, pneumonia in the lungs, and shortness of breath.

According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Legionella bacteria is found in freshwater environments but can grow and spread in water systems.

It can be transmitted from water containing the bacteria or through inhalation of contaminated droplets in the air.

“So, atin pong pinag-aaralan nang mabuti ito and of course, mayroon tayong close monitoring among our different surveillance units sa mga komunidad natin (So, we’re carefully studying this, and of course, we have close monitoring among our different surveillance units in our communities),” Vergeire said. (PNA)