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.
State health officials say a mysterious respiratory illness has left five people hospitalized and two dead in southeast Alabama.
In a statement, Alabama Department of Public Health spokeswoman Mary McIntyre says seven people have been admitted to hospitals with a fever, cough and shortness of breath. Two of the seven have died and McIntyre says the department and the Centers for Disease Control Respiratory Laboratory are analyzing lab tests from all seven.
Health officials say flu season is off to its earliest start in nearly 10 years — and it could be a bad one.
The primary strain circulating is one that tends to cause more severe illness, especially in the elderly.
But officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the nation seems to be fairly well prepared. More than a third of Americans have been vaccinated, and the vaccine is well matched to the strains of flu so far.
A new study says Alabama is the nation's fourth-fattest state.
The report released Monday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 32 percent of Alabama's adults are obese. That's slightly better than the obesity rates in Mississippi, Louisiana and West Virginia.
The state obesity rate for 2011 is a little less than the number from 2010, but the CDC says the two numbers can't be compared because it changed statistical methods. So it's hard to gauge whether there's been any real improvement in fighting obesity.