An Alabama illness remains a mystery. The respiratory illness has struck seven Alabama residents, killing two. The other five victims remain hospitalized, as state health officials search for the origin of the mysterious and deadly disease.
All seven residents presented with similar symptoms, including coughing, shortness of breath, and fever. Samples taken from all seven patients were tested for known influenza strains. One patient tested positive for H1N1 influenza A. However, officials state that it may simply be a coincidence.
As reported by NBC News, the patients do not appear to have any known deadly strains of influenza. H7N9 has been responsible for severe illness and death in China, and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS, has caused similar problems in the Middle east.
Doctors have determined that it is unlikely the patients contracted either of those, as they have not traveled outside of the US.
The Alabama illness is being called “a respiratory illness of unknown origin” by officials. Hospital staff treating the patients are required to take precautions that prevent the spread of infectious disease.
The Alabama Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control continue to analyze samples from all seven patients. As reported by ABC News, officials hope to have some conclusive results before the end of the week.
The mystery illness seems to be concentrated in southeast Alabama. Officials are investigating whether patients, with similar symptoms, have been treated elsewhere. Until the origin of the illness is known, authorities are urging medical staff to use caution when treating any patient displaying symptoms of respiratory illness.
The sudden appearance of an unknown illness is frightening. Unfortunately, it takes time to analyze and determine the origin of a mysterious sickness. Realistically, the origin may never be proven conclusively. Precautions by medical staff may be the most important step in preventing new cases.
The mysterious Arizona illness has killed two and left five others hospitalized. Two government agencies are currently working toward an explanation, and hopefully a solution.
[Image via Wikimedia]