What you need to know about disseminated pneumococcal disease

An air ambulance crew in western France was preparing to evacuate an infected patient who had been in the hospital for more than two months.

The ambulance, an Air Ambulance de Lorient, had arrived on Sunday (local time) in the town of Béziers and was scheduled to take the patient to the hospital in the area of Toussaint-sur-Oise.

But the patient, a 61-year-old woman who had travelled to the area in January, died on the way to the emergency department at a hospital.

Air Ambulances de Lorneres said on Tuesday that the crew received a report of an “infection” at the hospital and that it had been sent to investigate. 

A source told the AP news agency the woman had travelled from the north of the country to the city of Boulogne-Billancourt, where she was treated by a doctor at the local hospital.

The source said the woman was taken to a nearby hospital and the doctors were unable to determine her exact cause of death.

The health ministry said in a statement that the woman died of disseminated tuberculosis.

The hospital’s director of communicable diseases, Jean-Marc Lachaux, said the patient had been at the emergency ward since March and was under treatment for pneumococcus.

“It’s a very complicated case, but it’s a complicated one because the infection came from her,” Lachaus told Reuters news agency.

The communicable disease department in the regional health department said it had received the information about the woman’s death and launched an investigation.

“We’re now working to find out what happened,” said its director, Gilles Tarrant.

The French health ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the case.

In March, France passed a law allowing the use of airborne disinfectants, such as chlorine and phenols, to treat the spread of pneumococci in the country, which has been battling an outbreak of the bacterial disease since early February.

The law was passed after a cluster of cases in the city and elsewhere in the north-east of the nation.

In April, a French health official said the country was facing a “very serious threat” from pneumococcosis, a disease that can spread easily among close contacts and has been linked to hospitalisations and deaths.

French President Emmanuel Macron called on his counterparts to “bring all the tools necessary to fight the spread” of pneumoconiosis.