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Unknown respiratory infection hospitalizes 7 in Alabama, two dead

By Michael Krebs     May 22, 2013 in Science
An unknown respiratory infectious pathogen has hospitalized seven people in southeast Alabama and killed two, sending health officials scrambling to identify the bug.
A mysterious and severe respiratory infection has afflicted seven people in southeast Alabama, NBC News reported on Tuesday. Of the infected, two people have died and five remain hospitalized.
Alabaman health authorities rushed to report on the unusual cluster and are trying to determine the cause of the infection.
The patients have been tested for the H7N9 bird flu virus that has made a disturbing presence in China, however there was not any evidence of bird flu. However, one sample did test positive for the H1N1 influenza virus.
The H1N1 swine flu virus was recently discovered in marine mammals on the US Pacific coast for the first time, as Sci-News reported. H1N1 was reported last week to have been responsible for 60 infections in China, killing one child.
Additional samples have been sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for testing on other prevalent dangerous viruses, including the recently-dubbed Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) - the SARS-like novel virus that has emerged in the Middle East.
"We're only aware of the Southeast, but we don't know -- we haven't received reports from anywhere else," Alabama Department of Public Health spokeswoman Mary McIntyre said in a statement, according to the Associated Press. "That's why we're trying to get the information out."
None of the infected in Alabama are believed to have traveled outside of the country.
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