Cause of deadly illness found - WRBL

Cause determined of deadly Southeast Alabama illness

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The strange illness that killed two people and hospitalized five others in Southeast Alabama is no longer a mystery. The cause of the respiratory illness is a combination of the flu, the common cold and pneumonia.

Residents of the Chattahoochee Valley were on edge this week after the announcement of a deadly illness that struck so close to home.

Local hospitals were monitoring the situation and taking extra precautions after the initial report of deaths in Dothan, Alabama because of a mysterious respiratory illness. People initially feared this was another new, unexpected single-strand virus like the bird flu or SARS virus. The Alabama Department of Public Health announced Thursday this is not the case.

Ed Saidla, the Columbus Public Health Program Manager, says it's fortunate this illness is not a single virus strand because those transfer so easily.

"In today's world, you're only one airplane flight away from a virus going all the way around the world," Saidla said.

Health officials say people should continue to take precautions and to contact your health care provider if you or your family members have respiratory symptoms such as fever, cough and shortness of breath.

They also recommend you take basic steps to prevent transmission of diseases by covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue, wash your hands often with soap and water and try to avoid close contact with anyone who is sick.

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