Test results on a cluster of Alabama patients hospitalized with similar respiratory symptoms indicated no unusual pathogens but instead a variety of common respiratory viruses and bacteria, state health officials announced today.
Don Williamson, MD, Alabama's state health officer, said in a statement from the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH)."This is good news. Testing has ruled out avian flu and novel coronavirus."
At a press briefing today Williamson said 10 patients at a hospital in Dothan, in the southeastern corner of the state have been identified as part of the cluster, and so far tests results are available for 7 of them. Two patients have died, according to earlier reports.
Three of the seven patients had influenza A, four had rhinovirus, and three had bacterial pneumonia of different types, Williamson told reporters, indicating co-infection in at least some of the patients. Six of seven patients had pneumonia on x-ray findings, and the seventh one was intubated, which suggests lower-respiratory involvement, he said.
Investigations found no common exposures or links between the patients. Williamson said it's uncommon to see flu in the spring, but it's not unheard of.
He said unusual cases, especially a cluster of them, trigger a closer look by public health officials. Williamson said health officials followed the proper procedures for reporting unexpected findings and patients who had common symptoms.If nothing else, this was a good "this is not a test" test of the region's public health alert systems.