A cluster of mysterious respiratory illnesses that alarmed southeast Alabama turned out to be nothing more sinister than ordinary cold and seasonal flu, health officials said Thursday.
Lab tests by state and federal officials ruled out avian influenza and a novel coronavirus, now known as MERS, that has killed 22 people in the Middle East.
“There is no evidence of any new or unexpected virus circulating,” said Dr. Don Williamson, the Alabama state health officer, who said he wanted to put “closure to this cluster.”
Seven people fell ill and two died earier this month in southeast Alabama after coming down with symptoms that included shortness of fever, shortness of breath and cough. All of the patients were adults ages 32 to 87. The people who died were 34 and 55, Williamson said.
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