Test results reveal cause of mysterious illness in southeast Alabama

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) – The Alabama Department of Public Health says a respiratory illness that killed two and hospitalized others in southeast Alabama are not connected.

“Our original concern was with what is called the novel coronavirus but the good news is that the test results we have back on all seven patients are negative,” Alabama Health Officer Dr. Don Williamson said in a Thursday press conference in Montgomery.

Testing revealed the source of the illness was a combination of influenza A, rhinovirus, which is associated with the common cold, and bacterial pneumonia.

“This simply represents a clustering of common organisms,” Dr. Williamson continued.

Those identified in the cluster range in age from 24 to 87. The two who died were 34 and 55 years old.

Pneumonia was attributed as a contributing factor in the deaths. None of the patients or their illness had any connection.

“There is always influenza in Alabama, even though it may be in low levels. This highlights why we do influenza surveillance year round,” Dr. Williamson said.

Three other patients who await test results. ADPH officials say those results are expected to be no different than the seven already back.

Copyright 2013 WIAT-TV CBS 42

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