Alabama Closes Mystery Illness Probe

May 24, 2013

Alabama health officials investigating a cluster of respiratory illnesses say the total has increased to 10, but they are closing the investigation.

   State Health Officer Don Williamson said Thursday the cases are unrelated and all have reasonable explanations. He said health officials took extraordinary caution because of two new viruses - one in China and another in the Middle East. But they found no evidence of new or unexpected viruses or bacteria in the cluster of cases in southeast Alabama.

   Two have died, six remain in hospital and two have been released from hospitals. The 10 people range in age from 24 to 87.

   The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced earlier that testing on seven of the patients found no sign that the illnesses were caused by any single germ.