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DHS news release

Nov. 15, 2004

Contact: Nadine Jelsing (503) 945-5950

Technical contact: Mel Kohn (503) 731-4023


Flu arrives in Oregon

Oregon's first laboratory-confirmed influenza case for the current flu season has been reported by Providence Portland Medical Center, according to public health officials at the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS). It occurred in a 28 year-old man.


"The flu has arrived in the Northwest a little earlier than usual this year," said Mel Kohn, M.D., state epidemiologist in DHS. "Although we don't have as much vaccine as we would like, it is important that as many people in the high priority groups for vaccination get protected. We urge those in the high priority groups to be patient but persistent in getting vaccinated."


Limited supplies of FluMist, an immunization delivered via nasal spray, are also available. FluMist is encouraged for most healthcare workers unless they directly care for patients with severely weakened immune systems. In addition, household contacts of children under 6 months of age can safely receive it as long as they are healthy. FluMist is also an option for healthy persons ages 5 through 49 who want to avoid the flu, Kohn said.


Influenza is characterized by abrupt onset of fever, headache, sore throat, cough and muscle aches. Other respiratory infections that can be confused with influenza are usually milder and are more likely to start with sore throat, sneezing, runny nose and slight fever.


Kohn advises all Oregonians to guard against the flu by following good hygiene:

  • Wash your hands frequently to get rid of germs you have picked up.
  • Try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Cover your mouth with a tissue or shirt sleeve when you cough or sneeze, to avoid spreading germs.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are ill.
  • Stay home when you are sick.

Anyone seeking a vaccination or FluMist should check with their healthcare provider or county health department. They can also call the DHS flu hotline at (800) 978-3040 or (503) 872-6900 in the Portland area, or (800) SAFENET.