Mysterious Respiratory Illness sickens 7 In Alabama; 2 Dead
An unknown flu-like respiratory illness has killed two people and sickened five others in southeastern Alabama. According to the Washington Post, seven patients have been admitted to hospitals in and around Dothan, Alabama with fever, cough and shortness of breath.
A press release from Dr. Mary McIntyre, the Director of the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) said that the department is working closely with the CDC to determine what has sickened the patients.
“Laboratory samples have been obtained from all patients,” wrote McIntyre in the statement, “Laboratory testing continues at both ADPH Bureau of Clinical Laboratories and CDC’s Respiratory Laboratory. ADPH and CDC have recommended the hospital use respiratory precautions, which include staff using N95 masks when caring for patients presenting with respiratory symptoms.”
The statement urged anyone experiencing these symptoms in Dothan, Houston County or other surrounding areas to report to their health care provider for assessment.
According to Montgomery, Alabama’s WSFA, the seven victims range in age from their early 20s to late 80s. The string of hospital admissions began last Thursday. One patient has tested positive for the H1N1 flu virus and another for Influenza A.
None of the patients appear to be connected to each other, nor have any of them recently traveled outside the country, said WSFA. Health officials are urging people not to panic, but to practice normal hand-washing and to cover all coughs and sneezes. Health care providers are being asked to report any unusual symptoms or complications in their patients immediately.
The Post reported that the CDC is referring all questions about the disease to Alabama health officials.