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Health Highlights: May 22, 2013

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Mystery Illness Kills 2 in Alabama

A respiratory illness of unknown origin has hospitalized five people and killed two others in southeast Alabama, state health officials announced Tuesday.

Over the past few weeks, the patients were admitted to hospitals with cough, fever and shortness of breath, Alabama Department of Health spokeswoman Mary McIntyre said in a statement, the Associated Press reported.

Lab tests are currently underway to try and identify the nature of the illnesses and McIntyre said preliminary results are expected by Wednesday or Thursday.

So far, "we're only aware of [cases in] the Southeast, but we don't know, we haven't received reports from anywhere else," McIntyre told the AP. "That's why we're trying to get the information out."


Report Backs Park Service Response to Yosemite Virus Outbreak

A federal probe into a deadly viral outbreak last year among campers at Yosemite National Park found that park officials acted appropriately.

Nine tourists staying at the California park fell ill with hantavirus and three died. An investigation traced the infections to deer mice nesting within the double walls of new tents in Yosemite's Curry Village family camping site, according to the Associated Press.

The new report from the Interior Department's Office of Inspector General found that the National Park Service responded appropriately and according to department policy.

"When the outbreak was identified, NPS mobilized to contain and remediate the outbreak and to prevent further outbreaks," Mary Kendall, a deputy inspector general, wrote in a letter tied to the report, the AP reported.

Current park policy did not require that park officials approve design changes to the tents linked to the outbreak, the report found. However, the park service should initiate cyclical pest monitoring and inspections of public accommodations to minimize the threat, the report's authors said.

Delaware North Companies Parks and Resorts, the concessionaire responsible for the Curry Village tents, said it would adhere to the recommendations in the new report and is removing the type of tent cabin implicated in the outbreak.

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Posted: May 2013