Mystery illness hospitalizes 7, kills 2 in southeast Alabama

flu 435x420 Mystery illness hospitalizes 7, kills 2 in southeast AlabamaTwo people have died and at least seven have been hospitalized by a mystery illness in Alabama. All seven cases were reported at one hospital in Dothan and come from a 10-county area in the southeast corner of the state. The cases were reported between April 19 and May 20.

State health officials have yet to pinpoint the source of the illness, however two of the patients tested positive for the flu virus – one for H1N1, also known as the swine flu, and the other for influenza A. Symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Five of the patients remain in the hospital and one is in intensive care.

“Right now, we’re doing additional testing. We don’t know what it is at this point,” Dr. Mary McIntyre, an assistant health officer for disease control and prevention with the Alabama Department of Public Health, told the Troy Messenger.

Test results on the patients have been sent to the state health department’s Bureau of Clinical Laboratories and the Respiratory Laboratory at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Both agencies are recommending that the hospital use respiratory precautions to keep the illness from spreading, including requiring staff use N95 masks while caring for patients presenting respiratory symptoms.

“It’s important for people to remember that just because it’s not January, February or March we can still have an influenza outbreak,” McIntyre said. “We’re trying to get people to understand if they are symptomatic to do what they would do if they had known flu.”

Source: Troy Messenger