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U.S. Naval Hospital Yokosuka officials are investigating the Saturday death of a servicemember from pneumonia, and the possibility that three other pneumonia cases in the past two weeks are connected.

“We believe these cases are not related. However, we are doing a thorough investigation to be sure,” hospital spokesman Bill Doughty wrote to Stars and Stripes.

Hospital officials are “tracking and testing anyone who had close contact with the individual,” Doughty reported. However, he would not identify the servicemember.

Officials said the case is not likely related to severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, a viral respiratory illness first reported in Asia last year that killed more than 700 people, according to the World Health Organization.

“Whenever people hear about a tragic loss of life associated with pneumonia or ‘respiratory illness’ they may understandably think of SARS,” Doughty wrote. “However, none of the patients’ clinical histories suggest SARS.”

The hospital is coordinating with Navy preventive medicine experts, the Centers for Disease Control, and military and Japanese public health officials.

Japanese officials have not reported an increase in pneumonia cases, Doughty said.

According to a hospital statement, three other patients developed similar symptoms in the past two weeks. The symptoms include high fevers, shortness of breath, coughing, and wheezing.

Two patients have recovered, and the third is being treated at Yokosuka’s hospital, according to Doughty.

The hospital has created a Web site for case updates, at:

Base officials are not advising the community to take any extra precautions.

“Frankly, we may be overreacting a bit, but we are committed to keeping the public informed,” Doughty said.

Doughty said the deceased was an active-duty servicemember and was on the hospital staff.

A memorial for him was planned for Tuesday at the hospital.

“Despite the heroic efforts here and the help of the remarkable professionals at Kyosai Hospital, our friend and colleague passed away, bringing great sadness to our entire Navy family, military and civilians,” said the hospital’s executive officer Capt. Greg Hoeksema, in a statement.

“We celebrate our shipmate’s life and achievements, bringing smiles to patients and co-workers, living a life filled with love, and making a difference for others.”


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