As I type this, the top Alabama health official is holding a press conference. And a major tip 'o the cap to my buddy Mike Coston for giving me the link!
The health officer says there are three different agents at work in the cluster: Rhinovirus (4), influenza (I missed the number), and (3) bacterial pneumonia infections. There were multiple and overlapping infections in several of these cases.
The hubub, this official states, is due to the heightened states of alert pertaining to H7N9 and MERS-CoV.
"A clustering of common organisms" is the reason why this group of disassociated illnesses was grouped together.
One death was aged 34; the other was age 55.
According to this man, "WNL" means "Within Normal Limits," referring to tests. He says it also means "We never looked," referring to the individual persons who fell ill. It was the number of persons falling so ill, in such a short timeframe and in such a small area, and in such an environment as we are working in today with H7N9 and MERS, that prompted the closer inspection.
I like his candor and his folksy demeanor. Case closed.
However, the question is still out there on Houston.