- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Alabama medical experts are puzzled by a respiratory illness that sent seven to the hospital and ultimately killed two.

Symptoms included fever, cough and shortness of breath, the Alabama Department of Public Health’s Mary McIntyre said in the Daily Mail. But the causes of the illness are unknown, though some of the seven did have the flu, she said. Doctors also ruled out that the patients were infected with the H7N9 strain of flu that has caused deaths in China, the Daily Mail reported.

“At this point, it’s too early to tell [what they have],” Ms. McIntyre said on NBC News. “That’s why we called it a respiratory illness of unknown origin.”

Hospital staff are being told to wear masks around patients with respiratory illnesses. Laboratory samples sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention could be tested as early as today, Fox News said.

Meanwhile, state and federal health officials are investigating, the Daily Mail reported.

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