Officials with the local office of the state Department of Public Health said Wednesday that one of the two deaths that are part of a recent respiratory illness outbreak could be associated with the H1N1 flu virus.
Lesa C. Smith, a registered nurse with state Department of Public Health, also said the number of people admitted to local hospitals during the recent respiratory illness outbreak has increased from seven to nine.
“We can’t say that the person died with H1N1, but we can say it was a death associated with it,” Smith said. “A total of nine have been admitted. We know some people are recovering, and are going home.”
Corey Kirkland, a health department spokesperson, said the two deaths occurred Saturday and Sunday.
Several local state Department of Public Health officials held a press conference Tuesday morning to release information about a recent outbreak or “cluster” of respiratory illnesses to hit Southeast Alabama.
Smith said the three key symptoms area residents need to be on the lookout for includes shortness of breath, coughing and fever.
“We’re looking at those three things, but so far we don’t have a common factor among all of them,” Kirkland said. “There are many different types of respiratory disease. We haven’t pinned it down to one specific illness. Right now we’re looking for patients who are showing these symptoms.”
Kirkland said two of the people tested positive for specific viruses, which included the H1N1 flu virus. He said another person tested positive for the type A flu virus, which Smith said was the typical seasonal flu virus.
“We’re still in the investigative state, and we’re still waiting other tests to come back,” Kirkland said.
Health department officials have said all nine people admitted to local hospitals were within an eight-county southeast region, which includes Barbour, Coffee, Crenshaw, Dale, Geneva, Henry, Houston and Pike County.Update: As soon as I posted this item, with 9 cases, I found a report from WSFA.com saying the number of cases is now 10.